So, You Need a Letter of Recommendation
February 1, 2010
Dear former students and employees. I’d be delighted to write you a letter of recommendation.
I’ll need you to do some work first.
First – make sure this is not a last-minute exercise. I’ll need a few days for synthesis, and I frequently travel, so make sure you’re giving me a minimum of a week between request and due date, and note you may still get me in a busy moment so more time is better.
- Tell me where the letter will be sent. Is it a generic recommendation letter? For a specific job? For your #1 pick for grad school? If it’s for a job, or grad school, tell me something specific about why that job, that grad school.
- Tell me why you would like to recommendation from me. What about the class / work experience was particularly interesting, challenging, what have you learned upon reflection.
- Write a first draft of the letter, completely edited. If you tend towards overconfidence, then try humility. If you are plagued by self-doubt, then make this an exercise in aggrandizement. I want you to intentionally brag and show off.
I’ll then take all of these inputs and edit your letter, being sure to add my own flourish based on what you provided.
Your former Professor / Employer / Mentor
Jen van der Meer