6 Tips for Requesting a Recommendation Letter from your Professor
BY JANE HURST
At some point in your college career it is possible that you may want to ask your professor for a letter of recommendation for an internship or job. When this occurs there are some steps you want to follow in order to have a chance at receiving the recommendation. Here are 6 tips for requesting a letter of recommendation from your professor.
1. Approach your professor
About two months or so before you need your letter of recommendation, schedule a time during their office hours to meet with them and ask them if they would be willing to write you a recommendation. Asking them during office hours will allow them to focus on what you are requesting. You can try asking them before or after class, but they will probably be thinking of other things and not be able to pay as much attention as they would in a scheduled meeting.
2. Professor information
If you are going to ask your professor for a letter of recommendation you need to be sure to use the correct salutation in your email. While you might say, “Dear Professor Y,” it would be better if you said, “Dear Dr. Y,” if they have a doctorate or “Dear Mr./Mrs. Y” if they have a master’s degree. Little things like that will put you on the positive side of your professor. Your email should be formal as you are requesting a formal letter of recommendation.
In your email you should start by introducing yourself and letting the professor know which classes you took together. If you did not have a class with this professor, but were working with them in an advising position such as a club or organization, you should include that information. Remember that professors can have hundreds of a students a semester. Including this information in the letter can help jog their memory.
After you have introduced yourself in the email and let the professor know why you are writing them, you want to give a summary of what job or internship you are applying for. This way your professor can personalize their letter of recommendation. Give them a brief description and maybe tell them why you are interested in this particular company. The more information you provide to your professor, the better the letter of recommendation will be.
5. Informational materials
You will want to attach a copy of your resume, cover letter, and any other information that will help your professor fill out the letter of recommendation. Make sure your resume is complete and up to date. You can use online resume builders to create the perfect resume for your professor to peruse. You will also want to update your cover letter to reflect the position you are applying for. Including a link to your personal website on your resume and cover letter can also be helpful for your professor.
6. Follow up
If your professor has not gotten back to you two weeks before your letter is due you may send them a gentle reminder. Be sure to be formal and do not panic or make demands. Professors do not have a lot of time on their hands, but if they told you they were willing to write you a letter they just may need a quick reminder. This email should just be a couple of sentences long. You should refer to your previous email to help jog their memory. Once they have sent the letter you will want to send them a thank you email. This is a common courtesy that will impress your professor and keep you in their good graces.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter.