You may need a few recommendation letters from your teachers if your career goals entail graduate school or research. While you certainly requested letters from your high school professors, requesting a professor to write one is a little different. How?

This tutorial will cover the topics needed to assist you in learning how to ask for a letter of recommendation:

Who Should You Approach for a Letter of Recommendation?

Consider your needs before selecting the person to request a letter of recommendation from. Are you submitting an MBA or MFA application? medical or legal studies? Will you use the letter to apply for a job, a research opportunity, an internship, etc.?

Generally speaking, the individual composing the letter need to be familiar with you and have firsthand knowledge of your performance.

How Many Persons Should You Ask?

Most likely, you’ll require more than one letter of recommendation. However, it’s unlikely to be successful to request that everyone you know submit one.

For instance, if you require two letters of reference, list the top two candidates you wish to contact. In case your top two selections aren’t accessible, choose two to three backups. To be safe, though, avoid asking every person on your list to write you a letter.

Even just keeping track of who has filed a letter of reference is a requirement of asking for one. Furthermore, more letter writers mean more to manage and potentially lose track of, regardless of how effective your tracking system is.

When Is the Ideal Time to Request a Recommendation Letter?

You are always welcome to request a letter of recommendation from a professor. However, the fall is the most popular season to request one because of impending application deadlines.

Students make a plan and approach their top candidates at least six to eight weeks before the assignment is due.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Even while you may be convinced of the influence a strong letter of reference may have, this does not necessarily make asking for one any simpler. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lessen the anxiety associated with this request.

1. Select your references with care.

Those who know you well should be used as references. Having a letter of reference from someone at the top of the corporate food chain may look impressive, but if they don’t know you, it will be obvious.

You should pick a writer who can confidently and persuasively describe your career and skills. A generic letter of recommendation can ultimately make it more difficult for you to secure the job.

2. Ask Early

Typically, it is ideal to get a recommendation at least two weeks before you actually need one. This will give the person writing your recommendation letter enough time to prepare well.

3. Employ some flattery.

A little flattery goes a long way, as the saying goes. Let them know how much you loved working with them, how much you respect their advice, or what you learned from them in the first paragraph of your reference request.

Don’t go overboard, though, or you’ll come out as fake.

4. Make a polite request.

Directly request a recommendation while noting the goal of the letter and the due date. Your references are not required to write a recommendation letter for you, so be careful to ask gently.

5. Provide all pertinent information.

By giving your reference all the information they need to write a strong recommendation letter, you will make it easy for them to evaluate your application.

Furthermore, remind them of your abilities and skills and be sure to make it obvious in your recommendation what you are searching for.

You can include the following details to your request to provide context for your reference:

  • A current resume.
  • What you’re now doing.
  • The purpose of the recommendation.
  • Explain your qualifications for the post.
  • Relevant work habits, achievements, and abilities.
  • The due date for the letter of recommendation.

6. Provide a way out for your reference.

Keep in mind that former coworkers, managers, or instructors are not required to write you a letter of recommendation.

Also, you don’t want to make anyone feel as though they have to recommend you because that can result in a hesitant or unfavorable reference. Make sure your reference has a simple means to refuse your request.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation from a Professor

Here’s how to request a letter of recommendation once you’ve narrowed your list of potentials down to two to four.

1. Schedule a Meeting

If a face-to-face encounter is not possible, a phone call will suffice. Peltz, however, advises that whenever possible, attempt to engage in some sort of face-to-face communication. The learner has the chance to observe any nonverbal cues.

This is important information, and you might want to think about finding an other reference if the professor hesitates and doesn’t reply favorably to the request.

2. Tell Them Why Them

Explaining your decision to ask this person to write a recommendation letter for you is an essential part of your request. You cannot assume the lecturer understands why you are asking even though it may be plain to you.

A thorough explanation shows that you’ve given this some serious thought and that there is a valid rationale and motivation behind the request, even if the reason is obvious to both parties.

To clarify that you aren’t contacting everyone, you should be specific about why you are contacting this person.

3. Give Them an Out

For whatever reason, not every professor will have the time or feel comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for you. Give them the option to deny your offer politely and readily so that it doesn’t cause awkwardness for either of you or hurt your connection.

4. Make things simple.

Make it simpler for someone to write a letter of recommendation for you once they’ve agreed to do so.

Give the letter writer a copy of your most recent résumé or curriculum vitae, or make a highlight sheet listing your hard and soft abilities, as well as your short- and long-term goals.

The lecturer will be better able to draft a recommendation letter for you if they have anything to refer to as they work on it.


Another strategy to set yourself out from the pack is to provide a letter of recommendation that truly shines. Reference requests aren’t always easy to write, but with our help, you can get the job done quickly and professionally.

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