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How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation In 2023 [The Right Way]

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If you’re unsure how to ask for a letter of recommendation, you’re not alone. It’s an uncomfortable but necessary request for career or educational advancement.

Luckily, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to requesting a recommendation letter.

Keep reading to learn about different types of letter recommendations and the best ways to ask for one.

Is It Unprofessional to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

While asking for a letter of recommendation may be awkward, it’s not considered unprofessional as long as it’s done with proper etiquette and respect.

So whether you’re approaching an instructor or employer for a letter, you should know the right and wrong ways to go about it.

Is It Better to Email or Ask in Person for a Letter of Recommendation?

It is much better to ask for the letter in person. Crafting a recommendation letter demands considerable time and effort from the writer, so writing an email request can seem lackluster and half-hearted.

Making the request in person is a more considerate approach and allows you to express your appreciation and admiration to the person.

Additionally, it’s recommended to supplement your in-person request with a written request, such as a type-out letter. It makes things more official and shows you’re serious about the recommendation.

Who Can You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

When seeking a letter of recommendation, there are many people whom you can ask for one.

However, some people’s recommendations carry more weight than others, so it’s worth considering who would be the best person to ask.

Is It Rude to Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation?

No, it’s not rude to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation! In fact, professors often relish writing these letters for students they believe in.

After all, their job is to help guide students on their path to success, and writing a recommendation is just one way they can do that.

However, remember that professors receive many requests for recommendation letters each semester. So, if they cannot accommodate your request, it’s important to be understanding and respectful.

A Mentor

If you’re looking for someone to write you a letter of recommendation, remember that mentors can be a great option!

Mentors often take pride in guiding their mentees through different stages of life and are usually thrilled to assist them in achieving their goals.

A Coach

If a sport or game has played a big role in shaping who you are today, reaching out to your coach for a recommendation letter is a smart move.

A good letter from your coach could highlight valuable skills like teamwork, communication, determination, and accountability.

When your coach has been guiding you for a long time, they’ll be in a great position to share their observations about how you’ve improved over the years.

A Volunteer Coordinator

If you volunteer somewhere, the coordinator is the perfect person to write a glowing recommendation about your giving and motivated personality.

Volunteering shows a lot of character, and a letter of recommendation from a volunteer coordinator can be highly impactful, showcasing your generosity, worth ethic, and commitment to others.

An Advisor

Your academic and career advisors often have a close working relationship with you, giving them a good understanding of your abilities and aspirations.

If you have an advisor who nurtured and encouraged you to strive for your goals, they’re likely to happily write you a stellar recommendation letter.

Since writing letters of recommendation is a substantial part of their job, advisors typically have much experience crafting them. You can be confident that they will write a top-notch letter to help you stand out.

An Employer

It’s common to ask your employer for a recommendation letter, especially if you’re applying to a university program like undergraduate or graduate studies. In such cases, most employers are usually happy to write you one.

However, requesting a recommendation letter for a new job can be more complicated. It’s important to approach the situation carefully and consider whether your boss would support your career move.

Who Can You Not Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

When it comes to recommendation letters, you can technically ask anyone you think would be able to vouch for your abilities and achievements.

However, remember that letters from friends or family members may not carry as much weight as those from professional or academic contacts.

So it’s important to reconsider asking a trusted friend or family member for a letter unless you have no other options.

How Early Should You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

The earlier, the better! As mentioned, people like professors and advisors are often bombarded with requests for letters of recommendation, so you should not wait until the last minute.

When you need a recommendation letter, consider who you can ask and present an official request as soon as possible. Ideally, giving the letter writer at least one month’s notice would be best.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

If you feel uncomfortable asking for a letter of recommendation, we’ve put together some ways to help you out:

Is It Okay to Ask for a Recommendation Via Email?

While face-to-face requests for recommendation letters are generally more professional, there may be situations where it’s not feasible.

For example, if your potential recommender lives far away or is in another country, scheduling a phone call or video chat is better than emailing.

However, if your contact is someone, you have only ever communicated with via email, sending an email request may be the most practical choice.

How Should You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation by Email?

If you need to ask for a letter of recommendation via email, it’s important to approach the request professionally and politely.

Start with a courteous greeting and then ask if the potential recommender would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation.

Also, explain why you’re asking for the letter and which school, job, or program you’re applying to. Additionally, mention why you’ve chosen this person in particular as your recommender (but avoid sounding overly flattering or desperate).

If there are any specific details that your recommender needs to know, like where to send the letter or when it’s due, make sure to include them.

Finally, be sure to express your gratitude and provide your contact information if the recommender needs to contact you.

How Do You Politely as for a Letter of Recommendation From a Professor?

The best way to politely ask your professor for a recommendation is to schedule an appointment, ask verbally, and offer them a written request with important details.

Also, express your gratitude for their time and effort, and avoid assuming they will automatically say yes to your request.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for Grad School

Asking for a grad school recommendation later follows the same procedures as above, but you should take the time to explain why you want to go to grad school and what you hope to achieve.

Additionally, provide your potential recommender with information about the specific school or program you’re applying to, and explain why you’re interested in that particular institution.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation From an Employer

Asking an employer for a recommendation is the same as asking a professor. You must be polite and gracious, explain why you need the letter, why you respect their opinion of you and the details of the deadline and application.

What Do You Say in an Email Asking for a Reference?

If you need to email the recommender to request the letter, there is a general format you should adhere to.

Sample Request for a Letter of Recommendation by Email

You can use the sample request below to craft the email:

Dear [Proper Prefix] [Recommender Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to ask if you would be comfortable writing a positive letter of recommendation for me as I apply to [school or company name].

As my [teacher/counselor/manager], I truly enjoyed our time together and am grateful for everything I have learned from you. I believe you can effectively vouch for my [list of skills or qualifications] that I have demonstrated during our time together.

I appreciate your time and consideration. The deadline for submitting the letter is [date]. I have attached an updated version of my [resume/CV] and the .

Please feel free to reach out to me for additional information or any questions you may have. Thank you for your support.


[Your Name]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address]

Template Request for a Recommendation Letter

If you’re sending a recommendation letter request via email, here’s a template you can consider using:

Subject Line: Letter of Recommendation Request

Dear [title + name of person you are asking],

How are you?

It’s been a while since we last spoke, and I hope all is well.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

I am applying for the available at [company], and was wondering if it would be possible for you to write a letter of recommendation for me.

During my years as a [your former position] with you, I was able to learn and experience many of the things that have led me to where I am today.

[Add an example of the previous statement.]

As such, I believe that no one else would be better suited to write a recommendation letter for me.

I would really appreciate any kind words you might be willing to share on my behalf.

If you are unable to do so, however, I completely understand.

Please feel free to let me know.


[your name]

After Receiving Your Letter of Recommendation 

Once you have submitted your completed job application, along with the letter of recommendation, it would be a thoughtful gesture to send your recommendation writer an email or message of thanks.

Keep it short and sweet, like the following email template:

Subject line: Letter of Recommendation – Thanks!

Dear [title + name of person],

Thank you for writing a letter of recommendation and being a great reference for me.

I wanted to let you know that I’ve sent in my completed application for the at [company].

Once again, I greatly appreciate the time and help you’ve given.


[your name]

When you’re accepted for the position, here’s a good template you can use to express your thanks:

Subject line: Accepted Job Offer

Dear [title + name of person],

I hope you’re well. I wanted to send an update that I have just accepted the at [company].

This wouldn’t be possible without your letter of recommendation.

Thank you so much.

I really appreciate it.


[your name]

Wrapping Up

Our final advice for you is to express gratitude towards the person who writes your recommendation letter. Remember that crafting a compelling letter takes time and energy, and they do it solely to help you succeed.

A strong letter of recommendation can make all the difference with potential employers or academic programs, so it could easily be the difference between you being accepted or rejected.

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