Why Recommendations Aren’t As Bad As You Think

Preparation is Key to Getting a Great Letter of Recommendation As part of the process of applying for a new job, a grant or fellowship, or college admission or scholarships, we will very often have to provide letters of recommendation from people that are familiar with our work or academic histories. While other aspects of the application process certainly do bear more weight on the final results, those that are making the decisions are still able to learn an incredible amount about you from your letters of recommendation. More than simple letters of opinion from your family and friends, letters of recommendation should come from people that know you in professional or academic settings and can attest to your work and abilities. Because you will be the one who has to go to these people and ask for a good recommendation, it is absolutely essential that you have a good understanding of the best ways you can go about this. Like most things, preparing as soon and as thoroughly as possible is one of the best ways for you to get a good letter of recommendation. Of course, the basis of this recommendation will have to be all of the things that are reflected in your academic transcript or work portfolio. Beyond this, there will be many things you will have to do and consider, as well as deadlines to be mindful of, as you are seeking letters of recommendation. By being well-prepared as early as possible, you not only will be able to help make this process easier on those writing the recommendations, you ideally will be in a good position to handle unseen circumstances with ease. Being very careful and selective with who you ask for a letter of recommendation is one of the key aspects of your preparation. As it is best to make sure the letter is somehow related to the position or award you are pursuing, you should consider what the letter of recommendation is for when thinking of who to ask. For instance, a letter of recommendation from a sociology or biology professor will probably not be good for a music student that is pursuing a music fellowship. However, if the music student is in the school orchestra, or perhaps volunteers at a local music school, she could ask the orchestra’s director or school’s manager for letters of recommendation.
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After the people you asked agree to write letters of recommendation for you, you will then have to be consistent with following up with them before the deadline comes. Though you should never be pushy or overbearing, it would be helpful if you keep them reminded of when the applications are due, and when you need the recommendations by. They will have to know whether they should send the letter to you or to the job or decision-making panel directly, in which case they will have to have the correct mailing address. Also, after receiving the letters of recommendation, it is always a good show of respect and gratitude to send thank you letters or cards to those who wrote them.
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Although it is not necessarily the most important part of your application process, your letters of recommendation could potentially be the deciding factor in whether or not you get what you seek. Should you ever feel that you need more help getting letters of recommendation, or any other aspects of an application process, there are professional services that you can contact which can help you learn whatever is required for success.