How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

By: Shannon Looney, July 27 2018

Once you can see the finish line of your internship, it’s a good idea to start thinking about obtaining a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. These can be important materials for securing the next opportunity you put yourself forward for. With an internship just finishing up, its best to ask while the experience is still fresh in your supervisors mind, as well as yours! Below I have compiled a list of top tips for scoring your letter of recommendation.

1. Consider who you should ask
Not everyone’s situation is the same, so it is up to you to determine who the right person in your company is to ask for a letter of recommendation.

A mediocre letter from your direct supervisor versus a phenomenal endorsement from another mentor within the company could be a determining factor in a job application. Whoever knows your work ethic and character the best, and will eloquently describe your positive attributes is the person you want to consider asking for a recommendation.

Remember, this person may also be contacted by the company you are applying to so make sure that they will be prepared to vouch for you if they receive a phone call or email.

2. Meet with your potential reference in-person
Once you have confirmed who you want to ask for a letter of recommendation, the next step is to meet with them and outline exactly what you need. When you have the opportunity, it is always important to meet with a supervisor in person whether it is for your exit interview, reviewing a project, or for a letter of recommendation!

I stress the importance of this because you will be able to articulate yourself better face-to-face and it shows a level of politeness when asking for this type of assistance.

3. Be specific and provide tools
When somebody agrees to be your referee (congrats!), you should make the task as easy for them as possible. Providing them with the types of job description you’re interested in applying to and your resume will give them helpful insight into how to form a cohesive letter of recommendation that is unique to you!

There may be instances when a referee asks you to draft an initial letter of recommendation that they will then review. If this happens, look at it as an opportunity to describe yourself objectively and as you would like to be seen by future employers. After the written portion is done, they will review, edit and approve the letter before signing their name.

4. Check in consistently
Another important task in the professional world is to follow-up with those you interned with. Not everyone is going to remember to write a letter of recommendation for you while they have other tasks on their mind.

Be sure to check in consistently, graciously and in a professional manner. If you need the letter before a certain date, be sure to make this known. Keeping tabs on the progression of your letter is your responsibility, so be sure to follow-up with contacts!

5. Thank you
Your referee is vouching for you professionally and putting time aside to help you progress your career, thus it is imperative that you express gratitude for their assistance. This applies when requesting the letter, when they provide it for you and when you land another internship or job.

Referees, and mentors in general, love to hear updates about your professional accomplishments and endeavours!

Don’t be nervous about asking your professional contacts for a letter of recommendation, everyone has been in the position you’re in right now, and most will be eager to help somebody setting out on their professional journey!

About the Author:
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