Letter of Recommendation Protocol
- Always ask the professor, employer, etc., if s/he would be willing to write a letter of recommendation. Don’t expect everyone to say “yes.” If we can’t honestly write a supportive letter or if we have not received enough lead time, sometimes we will say “no.” You have to be willing to hear that.
- Give the recommender at least 2 weeks to write the letters. These take 1-2 hours to write if they are really thought through. Graduate applications are generally due in December and this is a particularly busy time of year with fall finals, term papers, and stacks of recommendation letters.
- Write a cover letter clearly laying out when each letter is due, what it is for, and how it is to be submitted (sent directly, returned to applicant). Always include stamped, addressed envelopes.
- Fill out everything on the forms that needs filling out.
- Remind the recommender what classes you took with him/her and what grades you earned. Remind the recommender what years and quarters you took these classes (almost all reference forms ask “how long have you known the applicant.” Provide that information). Remind recommenders all other aspects of your work they know, how they know it, what they have said to you about your work. Although each of you is memorable, the years tend to blur.
- If appropriate, include a brief writing sample to remind the recommenders of your style and perhaps something you wrote for them.
- If appropriate, also include your updated/current Curriculum Vita and/or Professional Resume
- Include your phone number, email address, and every possible way of reaching you in case the recommender has any questions.
- The easier you make it for us to write these, the better letter you will get.
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