Asking for help can be a real challenge, but this is exactly what we must do when Letters of Recommendation are needed. They are demanded for a variety of purposes: jobs, promotions, internships, college applications, scholarships, as well as for the admittance into different organizations or positions. Whatever the aim, the steps in attaining them are straight forward and logical, but for many, not easy.
Frankly, the idea of attaining recommendations can be rather daunting or, just plain Scary!Scary because they require us to ask for something needed from a person we perceive as higher in authority (our boss, teacher, mentor, coach or leader) in some organizations in which we once participated. Scary because there is the chance that we misread the person and they don’t think of us as positively as we thought they did. Scary for some because an actual conversation is required!
Comfortable or not, let’s take a deep breath, ADULT UP and do what’s needed. Time to approach and act with these 10 critical tips in mind.
10 Critical Tips:
Only the person requiring the letter should request it. (Not your parents, spouse, or others)
NEVER text or Face Book or Message a request for a recommendation.
Be prepared with a cheat sheet for your writer which includes topics and themes that you would appreciate emphasized, based on the points necessary for your applications.
TALK to the person, either face to face or by phone, when making your request.
EMAILING your request is appropriate when several phone attempts have been made with no luck. Make sure it is professionally done with a short and clear subject line and a pleasant, clear message of greeting, social inquiry and request.
Provide your cheat sheet (#3), once your person has consented to write the letter. Come to an understanding of when you can expect the letter or recommendation to be completed.
Acquire all contact information, including physical address (home or office) and how the person would like to be contacted in the future in case you need to follow-up. Make a note of this.
Follow-up (email works) with a thank you for agreeing to make the recommendation. This is also a great way to politely reiterate the date in which you need the recommendation completed.
Send a written thank you note (the type you mail through the postal service) with a sincere message of THANKS for his/her time and effort spent, once the letter or recommendation has been completed.
Update your recommenders on your final outcomes. Who accepted you? What happened? This is just plain courtesy.
The biggest challenge is just to break the ice and start approaching people. Once you start, honestly, it will get easier and easier and then you’ll begin to wonder what you thought the huge deal was anyway. Will you grow in confidence? You bet!!