Requesting a Letter of Recommendation Like a Pro(fessional)

How to Request a Letter of Recommendation

As you continue through your professional journey, you will encounter situations in which you will need to ask for a letter of recommendation. Whether you are applying for graduate school, jobs, internships, or even a security clearance, a well-written letter can set you apart from other candidates. This resource is designed to walk you through the process of requesting a letter of recommendation like a pro(fessional).

Building Relationships

As you engage in various classes, activities, and jobs, think strongly about who you think could potentially write to your character or ability, and ensure you prove yourself worthy of a positive letter. For an academic letter, this could look like maintaining high grades, participating during class, and attending office hours. For a job or activity-related reference, ensuring that you are a team player, respectful, and always working to improve will be critical.

Identify Your Timeline

It is important to figure out the deadline for your request and ask well in advance. For many of your instructors, they will be asked to write many letters each semester so it is imperative to give them enough time to write. At minimum, consider requesting a letter at least a month prior; however, asking at the beginning of the semester prior to the deadline may be most beneficial.

Asking the Question

Try to ask in person, if you can, during an appropriate time. This should be when the individual is not in a hurry or in the middle of another task such as teaching class. If you have to make this request via email, make sure to include the purpose of the reference, any background information such as the program or position you are applying for, and to establish why are you asking them.

Example Email

SUBJECT: Letter of Recommendation Request - Due December 1

Dear Professor Campbell,

I trust your semester is going well. I am reaching out to request a letter of recommendation for the Fall 2024 cohort of the Data Science Master's program at Indiana University Bloomington. Through pursuing this degree, I am hoping to hone my skills and be able to qualify for data systems administrator roles. Having taken your Data Visualization course, I believe you can attest to my hard skills and academic ability. The letter is due by December 1 at 5 pm, and you would receive a link via email to submit it.

Thank you for your consideration.

All the best,

Sally Student