As if it weren’t awkward enough to ask for a letter of recommendation, sometimes the people you request it from might ask you to draft the letter yourself, and then have them sign it. It’s not uncommon for busy teachers or employers to delegate the recommendation letter duties to the very people who request them. When this happens, you have two challenges: Writing a letter about yourself, and making that letter sound like somebody else wrote it.
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for Yourself
Writing your own letter of recommendation may not seem ideal at first, but it really is a golden opportunity to ensure that your recommendation is top notch. The toughest part is getting over the awkwardness of talking about yourself, particularly when it comes to praise. Before you begin, make a list of your positive attributes and any special accomplishments or achievements that you think may be relevant.
For college applications, avoid including any accomplishments or achievements that are in other areas of your application like your essay or academic records. Stick to specific achievements that the person recommending you has personal knowledge of. If possible, use an anecdote to impart these achievements or positive qualities. Remember that the letter should sound like it is coming from someone other than you so avoid using the same voice, writing style and word choices that you used elsewhere in your application, including your essay.
Who Can Write You a Letter of Reference?
No, your mom or best friend would not be a good person to get a letter of recommendation from for your college application. Letters of recommendation have the most impact when they come from people who know you professionally or academically because they are less likely to be biased than those written by people who have a personal connection with you. When you are trying to decide who to ask for a letter of recommendation, think about teachers, counselors or employers.
What Should be in a Letter of Recommendation?
The first thing your letter of recommendation should do is identify how long the person writing has known you and in what capacity. For example, “John has been a student in my English class at XYZ High School for one year.” Next, the letter should identify some of your positive attributes and back them up with specific examples. Avoid a list of arbitrary adjectives. Instead, opt for stories that clearly illustrate your strengths without having to label them directly. More specific examples make for a more powerful recommendation letter. Anecdotes that reveal positive character traits or an ability to solve problems and adapt to change would make a great addition to your recommendation letter. Close with a prediction of how you will likely succeed as a college student.