Recommendation letters aren’t just for high school students heading on to secondary education; they’re also useful for demonstrating your skill and experience to potential recruiters or employers. Being recommended by something tells potential employers you’re promising, well-rounded, and talented, too. Here’s what you need to know before asking for letters of recommendation.
Letters of recommendation come in handy when you’re heading off to school and when you’re seeking work. It never hurts to have a collection or portfolio showing not only your professional achievements, but also your personal triumphs. Take a second to check this out before you start working on your own collection.
Here’s How to Ask for Recommendation Letters and Improve Your Marketability
If you’re like most people, just the thought of asking someone for a letter of recommendation likely makes you cringe a little inside. It’s exciting to know someone thinks highly of you, but at the same time, it’s awkward to come out and ask them to write something nice about you. It feels like fishing for compliments, but it’s not. It’s perfectly fine to ask people to share their thoughts!
You might be applying to a prestigious college, taking time off in a gap year, or maybe even an adult who desperately need work. Recommendation letters will help you prove yourself and be more competitive. Take any opportunity you can to ask for a letter of recommendation. You never know when they’ll become useful.
Plan in Advance
High school students and young adults need to pay special attention to college application deadlines. Never, ever make the person you are asking feel rushed or like they have to drop other tasks to write a letter for you. Your best bet is to ask for a letter anywhere from two to three months in advance of the deadline.
Teachers write letters out of the goodness of their hearts. Don’t make them feel rushed or inconvenienced or you might risk a bad review.
Look for Opportunities
Volunteering with an organization outside of school or work? Coordinating your office’s charity drive for the holidays? Turned in your notice, on good terms, at your current job or internship? Ask your employer or team lead for a college recommendation letter or a college professor for a job reference.
Don’t ever be afraid to turn a good experience with another person into an opportunity to ask for a letter of recommendation. It doesn’t matter if you are still actively looking for a new school or a new job. Ask for a basic letter on company or school letterhead that you can add to your portfolio for the future.
Don’t just approach someone and ask for a letter of recommendation. Be prepared to have a very real conversation. Tell them why you’ve chosen them, what you’ve enjoyed about working with them, or what you’ve learned from them (academically or otherwise). Let them know if they’ve been instrumental in helping you overcome challenges or what particular projects or work assignments you’ve been proud to complete.
Why so much fuss? You’ll make the person you are approaching feel as though you’ve put thought into your choice and remind them of your accomplishments so they can reference them in the letter. Don’t forget to ask if you can have a personal copy of the letter for your portfolio.
The number one tip: be professional at all times. Try to be mindful of their time and of the effort it takes to write the letter, and don’t push them if they refuse. No one is obligated to help you with recommendations; they are a true favor.