How to Get the Best Letters of Recommendation for Your Application

You want to apply for your dream job. Everything is in place—except for the letters of recommendation. These aren’t formalities. They’re endorsements that can shape your future. They speak on your behalf. They highlight your strengths. They open doors.

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How to Get the Best Letters of Recommendation for Your Application

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So, how do you secure the best one? It’s not just about who you know. It’s about who knows you really well. Truly understands your capabilities and character. Let’s have a look at the often-overlooked process of obtaining really good recommendation letters. It’s simpler than you think. And key for your success.

Want to know what you'll find in this guide? Have a look here:

  • Understanding the Importance of Recommendation Letters
  • Choosing the Right Recommenders
  • Preparing Your Recommenders
  • Crafting a Strong Recommendation Letter - What it Should Look Like
  • Submitting Your Letters of Recommendation

Looking for even more info? Check out these articles:

Understanding the Importance of Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters are really important because they provide an outside perspective. They go beyond what's presented in your resume.

letters of recommendation

What exactly is a recommendation letter?

It's a formal document that endorses your skills and character. It's typically written by someone who has observed your journey. Such as a teacher, professor, employer, or mentor. The reference letter should include examples that highlight your strengths. And complement the data in your application.

Why do admissions officers read letters of recommendation?

  • Unbiased assessment: To check your capabilities.
  • Insight into impact: To understand your influence in various settings.
  • Suitability gauge: To see if you fit their program or position.
  • Hidden qualities: To identify traits not shown in grades or scores.

Choosing the Right Recommenders

Choosing the right people to recommend you is super important. They should really know you well. And be able to say great things about your skills. And who you are. Specific examples are key to showing what you're capable of. It can really boost your application if you pick the right recommenders.

Whom should I ask to write a recommendation letter?

Which teacher(s) should I ask for a recommendation letter?

If you're asking a teacher, you really have to think about the right person. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Subject relevance: Choose someone related to your field of study.
  • Recent interaction: Prefer someone who have taught you recently.
  • Strong relationship: Select people whom you actually have a good rapport.
  • Performance recognition: Ask someone who have seen you really excel.

Preparing Your Recommenders

Choose people who really know you and can talk about what makes you great. They should share examples of what you've achieved and who you are. Before you ask them, talk about your goals so they can write a letter that fits.

letters of recommendation

What information should I provide to the person writing my reference letter?

Tell them about your background and what you've accomplished. Share your goals and why you need the letter. Give them your resume, list of achievements, and anything else that helps them write a detailed letter. This way, they'll understand your strengths. And they can write letters that make your application stand out.

How to ask for a recommendation letter written

Choose someone who knows your work well. And someone that can talk about it positively. Ask them in person or with a personal email. Explain why their opinion matters. Also mention how their letter will help you. Be clear about when you need it. Give them details about the program or job you're applying to. Thank them for their help. Lastly, offer more info if they need.

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Crafting a Strong Recommendation Letter - What it Should Look Like

A good letter should show why you're a good fit. It should include specific examples of your achievements. As well as your strengths.

How to format a letter of recommendation

The letter should start with a greeting. It starts in the same way as a cover letter. And then include an introduction of the writer. They should explain how they know you. As well as why they're writing the letter. They should include examples of your skills & achievements. The letter should end with a strong recommendation. Lastly, an offer to provide more information if needed. Overall, the letter should be really well-organized.

letters of recommendation

An example of a great letter for the application process:

[a. Date]

[b. Recipient's Name]

[c. Recipient's Title]

[d. Organization's Name]

[e. Organization's Address]

[f. City, State, ZIP Code]

Dear [g. Recipient's Name],

I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend [h. Applicant's Name] for the [i. position/program/school] at [j. Organization's/School's Name]. I have had the pleasure of knowing [k. Applicant's Name] for [l. number] years in my capacity as [m. Your Title] at [n. Your Organization/School]. During this time, I have been consistently impressed by [o. his/her/their] exceptional abilities and dedication.

[p. Applicant's Name] stands out for [q. his/her/their] [r. specific quality/strength]. One particular example that highlights this is [s. provide a specific example]. This experience not only showcases [t. his/her/their] [u. related quality/strength] but also demonstrates [v. his/her/their] [additional related quality].

In addition to [w. his/her/their] remarkable [x. specific quality], [y. Applicant's Name] has shown impressive achievements in [z. mention specific achievements]. For instance, [aa. provide an example of an achievement]. These accomplishments are a testament to [bb. his/her/their] hard work and commitment.

Furthermore, [cc. Applicant's Name] has an exceptional character. [dd. He/She/They] is/are [ee. positive trait], [ff. another positive trait], and [gg. a third positive trait]. [hh. He/She/They] consistently [ii. describe a positive behavior], which makes [jj. him/her/them] a valuable member of any team.

I am confident that [kk. Applicant's Name] will excel in [ll. his/her/their] future endeavors. [mm. His/Her/Their] [nn. specific skills or traits] will make [oo. him/her/them] an asset to [pp. the position/program/school] at [qq. Organization's/School's Name]. I highly recommend [rr. Applicant's Name] without reservation.

Please feel free to contact me at [ss. Your Phone Number] or [tt. Your Email Address] if you need any further information.


[uu. Your Name]

[vv. Your Title]

[ww. Your Organization/School]

[xx. Your Phone Number]

[yy. Your Email Address]

Tips for writing a strong letter of recommendation

Here are key tips to keep in mind:

  • Opening the Letter: Start with a friendly greeting.
  • Focus on Strengths: Highlight what makes you stand out.
  • Use Examples: Include examples. Show why you're a great fit.
  • Be Positive & Honest: The writer should be sincere.
  • Customize the Letter: Tailor it for the role or program.
  • Proofread: Make it clear and well-structured.
  • Be Specific: Ask your recommender to really detail the applicant's personal qualities.
  • Provide Examples: Use examples to back up points.
  • Show Real Situations: Describe how you've used skills in real situations.
  • Highlight Strengths: Focus on what you do well.
  • Mention Accomplishments: Talk about achievements and growth.
  • Insight Matters: Insights can greatly boost application.

Best Practices for Requesting Reference Letters via Email

First of all, keep it simple. And personal! Choose someone who knows you well. Explain why you need the letter. Also mention why you value their opinion. Be clear about the deadline. Always say thank you for their time and help.

letters of recommendation

How to ask for reference letters via email (with template)

Here's a friendly template for writing letters:

Subject: Recommendation Letter Request

Dear [a. Recommender's Name],

I’m reaching out because I’m applying for [b. program/job/scholarship] at [c. company or school]. I require a recommendation letter for this. I thought of you because [d. reason why you chose them].

I would really appreciate it if you would consider it.

The deadline is [e. date]. I can send you my resume. Or any other info you might need. Your support means a lot to me.

Thank you so much for considering this.


[f. Your Name]

Remember to actually send your email from a professional domain. The best way is to use your name or surname, or both. For example:

What is required of me?

Make it easy for your recommender. Give them all the info they need, like your resume and details about the program or job. Be clear about the deadline. Follow up politely if needed. Finally, always thank them for their help and keep them updated on your progress.

Here is a quick checklist for easy use:

  • Provide Your CV: To show your background & achievements.
  • Give Details: Explain what you are applying for.
  • Be Clear About the Deadline: Let them know when the letter is due.
  • Offer Additional Information: Send other info they might need. Such as your personal statement or application instructions.
  • Follow Up Politely: Check in with a gentle reminder.
  • Say Thank You: Thank them for their time & effort.
  • Keep Them Updated: Let them know the outcome.

Evaluating Your Letters of Recommendation

Review your letters carefully. Look for clear examples of your achievements. Things that show your strengths. The letter should be really personalized. Much like a cover letter. It should also be tailored to the role or program you're applying for. It should truly highlight specific qualities. As well as experiences that make you a strong candidate. Ensure the tone is positive. And check that the letter is well-organized. A good recommendation can make a really big difference in your application.

letters of recommendation

Checklist for a well-written letter of recommendation

Here is a checklist to make sure your letter ticks all the right boxes:

  • Clear Introduction: Does the letter introduce the recommender? And their relationship to you?
  • Specific Examples: Are there examples of your achievements? As well as your skills?
  • Highlight Strengths: Does the letter really focus on key strengths?
  • Personalized Content: Is the letter actually tailored to the specific role or program?
  • Positive Tone: Is the tone enthusiastic? Does it seem supportive?
  • Detailed Achievements: Are specific accomplishments mentioned? Are they well-described?
  • Character Traits: Does it highlight positive character traits?
  • Professional Format: Is it professionally formatted?
  • Clear Recommendation: Does the recommender endorse you?
  • Contact Information: Are there contact details?
  • Proofread: Is the letter free from errors?
  • Consistent Message: Is the message clear? As well as consistent throughout the letter?
  • Relevant Length: Is the letter concise?
  • Timely Submission: Will it be submitted on time?

Tips for Writing a Thank You Note

Sending a thank-you note is really key for maintaining professional relationships. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Express Genuine Gratitude: Thank your recommender for taking the time to write the letter. Acknowledge the effort.
  2. Specify Impact: Mention how it will positively impact your application.
  3. Personal Touch: Add an instance where their support made a difference to you.
  4. Future Connection: Express interest in staying connected.
  5. Professional Tone: Keep the note professional. Yet warm.

Sending a good thank-you note shows your gratitude. Also reinforces your commitment to maintaining connections. It actually leaves a positive impression. It really strengthens your rapport.

Submitting Your Letters of Recommendation

Send your letters well before the deadline. Make sure they are addressed to the admissions officer properly. And follow the submission guidelines!

letters of recommendation

How do I send my recommendations to colleges?

Colleges often have specific instructions. Some use online portals for the application process. Others might ask for email or mail to admissions officers. Check each college's requirements. Follow their steps carefully.

How do I send my recommendations to jobs?

This can really vary. Many companies prefer receiving them via email. Others through their online application systems. Some may actually request them to be mailed directly. It's very important to review the instructions carefully.

Need to add a cover letter? Check out these cover letter templates.

Understanding the FERPA release

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It offers the right to access your education records. This includes a recommendation letter.

When applying to colleges, you can choose to waive this right. Waiving means you won’t see your letters. It shows trust in your recommenders. Colleges often prefer this. It suggests honest feedback.

Not waiving means you can view the documents. Some recommenders might write less candidly if you don’t waive.

Consider your relationship with recommenders. Think about how colleges might interpret your choice. Make the decision that feels right for you.

The Final Word

Remember, recommendation letters are your backstage pass to the main event. That is whether it's college admissions or actually landing a dream job. Choose wisely. Prepare thoroughly. Ensure your recommenders have the details they need. A strong letter can be the ace up your sleeve. So, dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Let those endorsements really speak volumes. Send the letter on time to the admissions officer. Good luck!

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Frequently Asked Questions About a Reference Letter

Why is a recommendation letter important?

They provide unbiased perspective. They go beyond what your resume can convey. They offer insights into your character. As well as your strengths and achievements. It comes from someone who has observed your journey. This external endorsement can really greatly influence admission decisions.

How do I choose the right recommenders to write letters?

Choose individuals who can truly speak to your skills and character. Preferably, pick recommenders who have worked closely with you recently. Find people that can provide specific examples related to the position or program.

What information should I provide to my recommenders to help them write a strong letter?

Provide them with a good overview of your background. Share your resume. Include your achievements list. This information helps them tailor the letter. They can highlight your strengths to actually match the expectations of the opportunity.

How should I ask for a recommendation letter?

Choose a method that really suits your relationship. Whether in person or via a personalized email. Clearly explain why you value their opinion. Also say how their endorsement will benefit your application. Specify the deadline. Provide essential details about the program or job. Finally, really express gratitude for their assistance.

What should a strong letter include?

It should begin with an introduction of the recommender. And then mention their relationship to you. It should highlight specific examples of achievements. Also, it should provide evidence of your capabilities. The letter must end with a clear endorsement. Then, include an offer to provide further information if necessary.

How can I ensure my letter is submitted on time?

It's really very important to send letter on time.

  • Plan Ahead: Request it well in advance.
  • Set Clear Deadlines: Clearly communicate.
  • Use Reminders: Send gentle reminders. Express appreciation for their assistance. Emphasize the importance of great timely submission.

How should I submit my letters to admissions officers?

Ensure you submit your job or college letter greatly in advance. Use the specified method outlined by the college or employer. This could involve online portals, email, or traditional mail. Follow the submission guidelines really carefully. Double-check that all letters are actually addressed correctly.

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