Requesting Letters of Recommendation: Free & Effective

In this article, I’ll share a step-by-step guide on how to write a letter requesting a recommendation, complete with a template and personal tips from my experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • Start Early: Give your recommender ample time to write a thoughtful letter.
  • Be Specific: Clearly state why you need the recommendation and what aspects of your relationship the recommender should focus on.
  • Provide Materials: Include your resume, transcript, or other relevant documents to help your recommender.
  • Follow Up: Politely follow up if you haven’t received the recommendation as the deadline approaches.
  • Express Gratitude: Always thank your recommender for their time and effort.

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Requesting Letter of Recommendation

Step 1: Choose the Right Recommender



Select someone who knows you well and can provide concrete examples of your skills and accomplishments. This might be a former supervisor, a professor, or even a community leader. Ensure that the person you choose can genuinely endorse your candidacy.

Step 2: Prepare Your Information

Before you write your request, gather any relevant information that your recommender might need. This includes:

  • Your resume or CV
  • A description of the position or opportunity you are applying for
  • A list of your relevant accomplishments
  • Any specific points you would like them to mention

Step 3: Draft Your Letter

Start with a polite and respectful tone. Clearly state the purpose of your letter and why you have chosen the recipient as your recommender.

Template for Requesting a Letter of Recommendation

Dear [Recommender’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out to request a favor. Having greatly valued our time [describe the relationship, e.g., “working together on Project X at Company Y”], I am currently in the process of [applying for a new position/enrolling in graduate school], and I would be honored if you could write a letter of recommendation for me.

Your unique perspective on my [skills, work ethic, specific contributions] would be incredibly beneficial as it directly relates to my application at [Institution or Company Name].

I understand this is a significant request, and I’ve attached my resume and the job description to provide a comprehensive view of my background and the requirements of the position. If needed, I’m happy to provide further details or meet at your convenience to discuss this in person.

Thank you very much for considering my request. Please let me know if you’re able to support my application with a recommendation.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Step 4: Customize Your Request

Personalize each letter based on your relationship with the recommender and the specific details of the position or opportunity. Mention how their endorsement is particularly meaningful because of your past interactions.

Step 5: Send and Follow Up

Send your letter via a professional medium—typically email. If you don’t hear back within a week or two, it’s appropriate to send a polite follow-up. They might have missed your initial email or been too busy to respond.

Personal Tips from Experience

  • Timing is Everything: Request your letter well in advance of the deadline—ideally a month or more.
  • Be Thankful: Regardless of their response, thank your recommender for considering your request. Showing appreciation builds and maintains your professional relationships.
  • Be Prepared for No: Not everyone will feel comfortable writing a recommendation, and that’s okay. Always have a backup plan in case your first choice declines.

Writing a letter requesting a recommendation requires thoughtfulness and respect. With these steps, you’re more likely to receive a positive response and a letter that effectively supports your goals.

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