You have gone through college and are ready to take the next step into employment. You have your resume ready to go, references for miles, and all the confidence in the world. Then you run into a roadblock during your application process.
Your potential employer wants you to provide a letter of recommendation from a professor. And now you’re worried. How to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation?
If you feel overwhelmed by this, don’t worry, you are not alone. Knowing where to go to get a recommendation or how to ask for one can be confusing.
That’s where we come in. This article will discuss how you can politely request a letter of recommendation from a professor.
- Can You Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation?
- Why Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation
- When To Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation
- How To Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
- Sample Request for Letter of Recommendation from Professor
- How To Follow Up With a Professor About a Letter of Recommendation
- Wrapping Up
Can You Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation?
According to the basics of letters of recommendation, a recommendation letter should come from someone in an authority position you’ve worked with in a professional setting.
So, is it appropriate to ask your professor for this letter? Yes!
A letter of recommendation needs to be written by a professional who knows you and can attest to your skills and talents. Early on in your career journey, professors are some of the only people who know what you are capable of. So, ask them!
Is It Rude To Ask a Professor To Write a Letter of Recommendation?
No. In fact, many professors are waiting for you to ask them to write this letter. So, don’t be nervous. Seeing you succeed is something your professors want for you, and they are willing to help you on your journey to success.
It is not rude to ask your professor for help in this way. It is necessary, however, to be respectful of their time and appreciative of their willingness to write this letter.
Why Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation
Professors are one of the best professionals to ask for a recommendation letter. Here’s why:
1. They Know Your Work
Professors have had the opportunity to observe and assess your skills and capabilities through their interactions with you during your academic journey. They have seen your progression and can provide valuable insights into your abilities.
By evaluating your performance in assignments, projects, and exams, professors can gauge your knowledge, understanding, and proficiency in specific subjects or areas of study.
2. They’re Respected in Their Field
Professors typically possess extensive knowledge, expertise, and experience in their respective fields. As respected figures within their academic disciplines, their recommendations and endorsements carry significant weight.
When you apply for employment within a professor’s field of expertise, their willingness to vouch for you reflects positively on your skills, qualifications, and potential as a professional in that particular domain.
3. They Know How You Behave in Class
Professors have observed your level of engagement and participation during lectures, discussions, and group activities. So they can provide specific examples of your active participation, showcasing your intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skills, and willingness to collaborate with others.
Additionally, professors can evaluate your work ethic and professionalism in an academic setting. They can comment on your ability to meet deadlines, manage your time effectively, and maintain a strong work ethic throughout the course.
When To Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation
You can ask your professor at any time throughout your school career or after graduation to write these essential letters on your behalf.
There are some things to be mindful of, however:
- Be respectful: Professors are busy with their careers and lives. Being respectful and appreciative of the time spent writing this letter will benefit you.
- Ask ahead of time: Ensure you give your professors ample time to write this letter. Asking them several weeks before you start applying for employment is recommended. Waiting until the last minute to ask for the letter does not show respect for the professor’s time.
How To Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
When you start the process of asking for a letter of recommendation, it’s important to think about which professor would provide the best and most relevant recommendation.
You want to choose a professor that knows you well, so it’s best to choose a professor from a smaller class, preferably someone you worked one-on-one with.
You also want the skills you learned in their class to apply to the role you’re applying for. For instance, if you’re applying for a corporate internship in finance, you will want to ask your economics or business ethics professor.
After you choose a suitable professor, you can reach out to them via email or schedule an in-person meeting with them. And whichever route you choose, make sure to write a thank you afterwards.
How Do You Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation via Email?
If you cannot meet with your professor in person, then asking them via email is acceptable. There are a few things to keep in mind when reaching out in this fashion:
- Proofread your email request and edit accordingly.
- Send the email several weeks in advance.
- Take time to explain to your professor why you chose them to request this letter from.
- Provide them with information on the position you’re applying for.
- If possible, request a one-on-one appointment to discuss things further.
How To Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation in Person
When meeting with your professor in person, be sure to do the following:
- Be prepared with relevant materials, such as your resume, transcript, and any other documents demonstrating your qualifications.
- Highlight your achievements by reminding your professor about your academic performance, specific courses you took with them, research projects you worked on, or any other notable contributions you made in their class.
- Share your goals and how the job you are applying to aligns with those goals. Explain why you believe the professor’s recommendation would be valuable and impactful for your application.
- Regardless of their response, thank your professor for their time and consideration. Let them know that you appreciate their support and the impact their recommendation could have on your future endeavors.
Sample Request for Letter of Recommendation from Professor
If you are reaching out to your professor via email or letter, there are a few additional tips you should know.
The structure of the email or letter is important. Let’s take a look at an example.
Subject: [YOUR NAME] request for a letter of recommendation for [JOB NAME]
“Dear Professor [NAME],
Hello! I was in your class last year and worked on [name of the project you worked on].
As I am applying to , I need a letter of recommendation as part of the application requirements. I am hoping you are willing to write one for me.
I greatly enjoyed your class and learned many things about [include an example of what] during my time with you. I also particularly enjoyed [example of a personal trait of the professor that helped you learn].
I am attaching my application letter for you to get an idea of what my potential job will entail. If you agree to write this letter for me, I can provide more information, as needed.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for your time and consideration.
How To Follow Up With a Professor About a Letter of Recommendation
If it’s been some time since your request and you haven’t received the letter of recommendation from your professor, you should follow up with them.
If you requested your letter several weeks before it was due, a good time to send a follow-up email is approximately two weeks before the letter is due. That will give your professor plenty of time to finish and send the letter.
How Do You Politely Remind a Professor for a Recommendation Letter?
Remember, your professor is writing this letter as a favor to you. So, while you may feel anxious if the letter is not finished yet, it is important to remain respectful.
A few respectful ways to follow up on the status of your letter are:
- Send a polite email asking about the status of the letter.
- Schedule an appointment to meet with your professor in person.
Preparing for the necessary tasks to step out into the career world can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Take a deep breath and follow the steps listed above. Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your professor for this letter. They want to help you. It’s also okay to follow up on the letter’s status and remind your professor that you need it by a certain time.
If you’ve just started job hunting and are currently asking your professors for a recommendation letter, we’d love to hear from you! How is your process going? Make sure to let us know and leave some tips for your fellow job hunters in the comments.