Asking for a recommendation letter is an important part of the application process.

A good letter of recommendation can go a long way toward your goal of getting into an post-graduate program or scoring that perfect job after you have graduated from college. In a letter of recommendation, the letter writer ideally will detail why you are an excellent candidate for the position you are seeking. It is wise to follow universal formalities when asking a mentor to provide you with a recommendation letter for a job or graduate school.

Recommendation Letter For a Job

Employers typically check at least three references, so it is important to have professors, mentors, lab managers or coaches who can vouch for you. After you ask, provide the writer with a description of the position for which you are applying. Give details that will help them write a letter that is appropriate for your needs. It can also be helpful to give your writer a copy of your resume, transcripts, or curriculum vitae.

Recommendation Letter for Graduate School

When seeking a recommendation for graduate school, ask a professor or mentor who worked with you closely on research, a project or a thesis. Optimally, a professor of an upper-division course relevant to your graduate degree would be best. For graduate school letters of recommendation, all forms should be filled out ahead of time with the address and stamp already applied. Transcripts or curriculum vitae should be given to your writer.

Be Understanding

It is better to phrase your request with specifics. Try, "Do you feel that you know my skills well enough to write me a recommendation letter?" instead of, "Can you write me a letter of recommendation?" Keep in mind that while professors often are asked to write letters of recommendation, a professor will turn down your request if they feel that they do not know you well enough.

Asking In-Person or Via Email

Some people prefer to ask via email because it gives the professor time to review work and grades before deciding whether to write the letter. But asking in-person can give you an edge because the professor might be more likely to say yes, and you can follow up through email. If you no longer live close to campus, send an email to ask, but be sure to include which classes you took from the professor.