Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

Applying for a new job or seeking admission to college often requires a letter of recommendation. This lesson includes some helpful tips on who to ask for a letter and what is needed in an effective letter.

What is a Letter of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a referral or reference document sent by a reputable person to support and recommend a person for a position or vouch for a person's character. Letters of recommendation are often used when a person is applying for a job or as part of the admittance process for college. The letter of recommendation states the strengths a person has, the value a person may bring to a position, and the personal opinion the writer has about the person's integrity.

Let's imagine you are applying for a job as a Director of Finance at a hospital. You have worked in finance for many years, most recently at a hospital in your former town. You have since moved and are looking for a new job. Your former boss was pleased with your performance and agreed to write you a letter of recommendation. In that letter, she explained that you were dependable, prompt with projects, and a valuable team member. She also outlined your specific skills that were valuable in your work. When you offer a copy of the letter to the manager of the new position, he is impressed by the referral given by your previous boss. This gives him a favorable impression of you as a potential employee.

Consider Who to Ask

There are a number of people to consider when asking for a letter of recommendation.

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