How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation (+ Example Email Request) [2020]

how to ask for a letter of recommendation

As a resigning employee, asking for a letter of recommendation (or sometimes referred to as a reference letter) from a current employer, colleague, supervisor, manager, or boss can be a great way to collect a helpful job application asset for the future. When leaving on good terms with a company, this provides the employer with a desire to write a strong letter and overall positive recommendation for future employment purposes.

Asking for a recommendation letter is a fairly simple process. It involves showing gratitude to the letter writer for their future efforts, providing the writer with goals or objectives for the letter, and setting a deadline for when the letter is required (helpful for medical school and college application purposes).

In most cases, recommendation letters are requested for professional purposes. Which alleviates the need to punctuate a deadline. When applying for an MBA program or other graduate school (sometimes referred to as “grad school”) needs, for example, providing the writer with the application deadline and application materials (like the application itself) can be useful.

Tip: To receive a “glowing letter of recommendation”, provide the letter writer with a few guidelines. Always address the reader by name in the greeting, use the CAR format (Challenge/Action/Results) and reference facts of the applicant versus subjective claims.

When asking the recommendation writer to provide insights into the letter. Here are some examples:

Depending on the type of recommendation request, these would be helpful guidelines to send to the recommendation writer for what the letter should contain.

Tip: Collecting multiple letters from professional references can be helpful for any job seeker.

Here are professionals who may be able to write a recommendation letter:

All of these individuals would be classified as a good “recommender” to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Tip: It can be useful to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation during their regularly scheduled office hours.

Recommendation letters can be useful for job seekers, students, and general professionals. They can be used to show a potential employer the worthiness of employment (competencies, skills, personal qualities, and meeting qualifications). Letters of recommendation can be useful for recent graduates who are applying for an internship program. And lastly for students who are applying for a graduate program, financial aid, a scholarship, or other admissions committee requirements.

Tip: If seeking a college recommendation letter, it’s best for students to ask for their letters of recommendation during junior year of their schooling. This can “beat the competition” when it comes to the other student body who may be requesting letters of recommendation from their teacher or other faculty. Students should provide their letter writers with their personal statement for college to help assist the writer in creating a great letter of recommendation.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Below are steps for job seekers and students to consider when asking for a letter of recommendation:

Recommendation Letter Request Email Sample

Below is a sample letter request email. Job seekers and students should avoid writing a written request for a recommendation as it can take longer to receive the letter.

Email subject line: Recommendation Letter Request

Hey John —

I want to thank you for the opportunity to work together over the past few years. You’ve been a mentor to me and I will be carrying everything you’ve educated me with into my next role. I was hoping you might be able to write me a letter of recommendation that I can use for future employment opportunities.

If possible, I’d love to refer to a couple of qualities that I think will assist me in my career:

  • Leadership qualities and teamwork.
  • Time management and organizational skills.
  • Any other significant experiences you have had with me.
Thanks so much John,
Robert

Recommendation Letter Request Email Template

Below is an email template to request a recommendation letter.

Email subject line: Recommendation Letter Request

Hey [Manager’s Name] —

I want to thank you for the opportunity to work together over the past few years. You’ve been a mentor to me and I will be carrying everything you’ve educated me with into my next role. I was hoping you might be able to write me a letter of recommendation that I can use for future employment opportunities.

If possible, I’d love to refer to a couple of qualities that I think will assist me in my career:

  • [Recommendation Letter Objective or Goal]
  • [Recommendation Letter Objective or Goal]
  • [Recommendation Letter Objective or Goal]
Thanks so much [Manager’s Name],
[Your Name]

Recommendation Letter Templates

More recommendation letter resources.

Templates

Guides

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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