How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter

  • Make your request for a letter well before you send an interfolio request or a request from a school or employer.
  • Don’t press someone for a letter if they seem hesitant. You want your recommender to write letters only when they believe they can strongly recommend someone.
  • Consider the people you could ask for a letter. The people who write your letters should be people with whom you’ve built professional/academic relationships.
  • Because employers and departments look more favorably on candidates who have waived their right to view letters, be aware that many recommenders will only want to write confidential letters.
  • Consider creating an Interfolio account or using another dossier service if you will need multiple copies of your letter sent out.
  • Include all pertinent details in one email: contact info for letter recipient, letter delivery method, job or program details, details about yourself that you would want included in the letter, deadlines, etc. Please also include your UA dates and details, such as lists of relevant classes taught (and when).
  • Provide a SASE if you need a physical letter mailed.
  • At least one month of lead time is a good rule of thumb for letter requests. Plan on more time if you need to request a teaching observation.

Guidelines developed by Dr. Karen Gardiner and Jessica Kidd