Letters of Recommendation - Guidelines for Students and Alumni
Whom should you ask to serve as your recommendation writers?
- University deans and faculty who know you personally and know your work – they’ll be able to be more detailed in their recommendation letter
- Dissertation Advisor
- Department placement director
- Teaching supervisor
- Previous employer or internship supervisor
- Leadership or community services supervisor
- Recognized authority in your field who knows your work
- Anyone else who knows your work as a professional
- People who are willing to say good things about you! If you're not sure, ASK. Be straightforward: "These are the skills my potential employers are looking for. Do you feel that you know me well enough to say positive things about me in these areas?" Remember that a less-than-positive recommendation can kill your chances at a job.
How can you best assist your recommendation writers?
- Never assume that an individual will write you a letter; ask if the potential reference is willing to write a recommendation letter for you.
- Provide writers with stamped, addressed envelope for their convenience, and point out that they may also submit letters electronically to Interfolio.
- Start early. Give the recommendation writer a minimum of two-weeks, but expect that they made take a month to write the letters. You may want to give your writers a deadline date for letters to be sent to Interfolio, but be realistic with the date.
- Don’t chance losing track of potential references. Try to get letters when you have finished your last class with a particular faculty member, or immediately after you have completed your program, practicing teaching, internship or employment.
- Recommendations written for you to get into a graduate program should be not re-used for a job search. Your writers targeted these letters for that specific purpose, and may not address what a search committee or other hiring body needs to hear. Request new letters.
- Many hiring institutions and applications require 3 letters of recommendation. You may want to have more on file if you plan to apply for different types of positions.
- Keep letters current – nothing more than 3 years old. Ask recommenders for updated letters.
Requesting a Letter of Recommendation by Michael Ernst
Advice on Letters of Recommendation from Social Psychology Network