A letter of recommendation is an essential part of many scholarship, college, and even internship or job applications. When you are in the process of requesting a letter of recommendation, there is a right and a wrong way of going about it. Today, we will show you what to avoid doing when asking for your letter of recommendation. When requesting a letter of recommendation:

DO NOT ask the day before you need it.

Give your reference plenty of time to write the recommendation. It is not appropriate to put them under a difficult time constraint when they are recommending you. If you want the letter to be well written and tailored specifically to you, make sure to allow three to four weeks for them to write the recommendation. Not only will this make you look more professional, it will also make your recommendation better overall.

DO NOT use a family member as a recommendation.

Although a family member would probably write you a glowing recommendation, they are not an acceptable reference. Supervisors, scholarship committees, and colleges wish to see the impact you have made beyond your family. Think of people who see you demonstrate your skills, leadership, and passions regularly. Who outside of your family would be willing to recommend you? Make a list and then ask them! This person can be a leader within your church, school, workplace or even a student organization.

DO NOT expect them to know your qualifications or requirements of the recommendation.

Some recommendations may be very generic, where you will simply want the recommender to describe how they know you and the skills you possess. Others may have detailed requirements. They might want the recommendation to cover how you have impacted your community and include a description of your community service involvement. In this instance, it is essential to make the purpose of the recommendation clear to your reference. In order to avoid wasting both your and their time writing a letter that does not fit the criteria, provide this information to your reference upfront. During your initial email or face-to-face request make it clear the requirements of the recommendation. Be sure to also include any materials that would help your reference provide a detailed letter, including your resume and any specific qualities or experiences you want mentioned.

DO NOT ask someone you only met once.

When an individual is writing you a recommendation, they need to be able to describe your experiences and character first-hand. If you have only met someone once or only spoke over the phone, they may not be able to provide a valuable reference. Asking someone who knows you well will also allow them to feel more comfortable writing the recommendation, which will result in a better reference.

DO NOT forget to stay thank you!

Once you ask for a recommendation, your reference will become aware that they are writing for a job, internship, scholarship, or college opportunity. After you receive your letter and send it where it needs to go, it is important that you thank your reference for taking the time to write your letter. You can even send them a second update and thank you to let them know if you received that job, internship, scholarship, or college acceptance. In addition, doing so will allow you to keep that connection as a future reference.


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