How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter, Effectively

Prashanth Ramakrishnan
How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter, Effectively

Putting yourself out there is never an easy feat, whether it’s asking someone out on a date or requesting a letter of recommendation. With the latter, you find yourself worrying they won’t want to say yes or have anything good to say. Here’s how to make sure you’re asking for a recommendation effectively.

Start by asking the right people

You’re likely to get a ‘no’ if the person doesn’t know you very well. Even if their name would seem impressive in your application, you must consider if they have anything to say. Ensuring you have a relationship before asking is crucial. This way, you’re making sure the person knows about your experience, character and work ethic enough to say something.

Give them time

Asking for a last-minute recommendation is usually a bad idea. The people you’re reaching out to are likely busy professionals who won’t have time to drop everything to help you out. Even more, they might not take kindly to the last-minute request and seeming lack of consideration.

Instead of springing it on them at the last minute, give them as much time as possible, at least a month out. This gives them time to work it into their own schedule without feeling rushed or pressured.

Do it in person

Your request should always be face to face and at least moderately rehearsed. You want to let them know why you chose them. By taking the time to address it directly instead of asking via email, you’re showing it’s important to you and you specifically value them. It’s easy to sit behind a computer and fire off request after request.

Follow up with whatever they need

Depending on the situation, they might ask for additional information about the opportunity to help focus their letter. Make sure you’re prompt in following up.

Once you’ve received and submitted the letter, make sure you thank them sincerely for helping you out. If you make any progress or receive an offer, thank them again for helping propel your career.

The fast track to IT skills and success

If you’re a graduating college student, you know how tough the job market can be. Even the most glowing recommendation doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the job. Good thing there’s Smoothstack. Our immersive 12-week program gives you the equivalent of 1-2 years of on-the-job tech training, leaving you more prepared than ever to enter the workforce. Experience the Smoothstack difference and contact us today!


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