Why do you need Recommendation?

It’s important and often it is a requirement when:

  • Applying for a new job
  • Applying for an undergraduate, graduate school or business school.

In fact a full time MBA program for some business schools require two professionally written recommendation letters from your supervisor or clients.

(See an example of a MBA program request for recommendation letter here)

As you progress through your career you will find the true meaning of why people say “don’t burn your bridges” it is mainly for this reason – you might want to get recommendation from your bosses or peers or customers sometime later in your career.

Letter of reference or recommendation verify your claims of “good teamwork” “high profitability to an organization” “skilled leader” or “technically exceptional” in your resume or in the interview. So make sure that you read these tips before you seek your next recommendation and then go ahead and ask for references from those who like you and have liked working with you.

When should Recommendation be requested?

There are various situations in which you could be asking for recommendation, for example:


  • When joining in a new job, most hiring managers want to talk to some of the references you have provided during the interview or resume submission stage – they are indeed asking them if they recommend you for this job or not and also how you were there with them. It is your job to make sure that have a favorable recommendation for you.


  • Recommendation from Clients and Customers you have worked with adds a lot to your resume. At times people have got jobs just on the basis of good recommendations from previous clients. Never leave an opportunity after a job well done to ask for recommendation. Do not wait too long after your project completion to ask recommendation letters from clients, vendors who you think would have some words of praise or good words for you. You can add such testimonials and recommendation to a later time when you need it.
    Most likely they might not recall you after 3 or 4 years if you have not been in touch (or maybe if you have been) after the project completion.


  • One of the tricky situations in seeking recommendation is when you have to ask your current boss for reference when you are expecting a reference check while on a current job. If you feel it would not be taken in the right light and perhaps you are not on great terms with your boss, it is better to ask your co-workers on a trust notice instead.
    Often it is a good idea to note in your resume or inform your new hiring manager not to contact the current employer but at times it is not possible to do so.


Whom to ask for Recommendation

Usually professional recommendation would be requested from a former employer, supervisor or someone you reported to directly. At some instances schools or future employers will emphasize on getting this letter from your supervisor only. If you cannot get the letter from your supervisor you may be asked to present a reason why. This is important for you to know when deciding and spending time seeking recommendations.

Ask someone whom you can trust and also you know well. It is not much of effect if you seek a recommendation from a company hotshot but this person hardly knows you.

Those in your references list must know you well and they must also be informed personally that they can expect to be contacted to say some good words about you. And don’t forget to thank them!

Also another point to keep in mind is the timing of the recommendation; at times a supervisor or professor might be in the list of 80 students who want him/her to recommend them. It might not be possible for this person to cater to all calls, in such a situation first seek consent from your supervisor/professor and see if it would be better to contact someone else or add this person as the 4th or 5th reference.

It helps if you can add your resume and/or just key skills in a folder marked under your name and give to this person for easy reference.


Web Applications and Tools that help you get Recommended

  • LinkedIn is one for the most popular recommendation tool used these days:

Get to your Profile  page. Then click on the Ask for Recommendations link on the right hand side. Follow the instructions from there.

  • Your Website or Blog

Who liked your website or blog? What and why did they kike what they did? You might have had some cool testimonials and comments coming in the last few months or years. Usually you do get this info in your email inbox too, you may contact these people through personal email request to recommend your work on your website or add to your LinkedIn profile. In most cases they would oblige.


Research before requesting

Instead of just writing a couple of lines as “I urgently need a letter of recommendation, please can you write me one” or “can you please provide me with a good reference” you can get more creative and also note some points mentioned below to ensure that the person to whom you put forward this request feels respected and also has all the information to wrote an effective letter of recommendation for you.

If the person recommending you has to put in extra efforts on minute details, it is time wasted and might be a big put off to this person. Subtle negligence can delay yoru recommendation coming through.

Do your best to make the process easy and smooth for someone who is obliging you with a recommendation request.


Homework First

When requesting a letter of recommendation do your homework first to ensure a speedier return. You must do the following:

  • Request tactfully
  • Who are you? If it has been long since you contacted your professor or a past manager – it is important to first state who you are, when – years – you worked with this person, remind on some project details if possible.
  • It would be a good idea to forward your resume to the person you seek recommendation from or even a lilt of skills would work.
  • List the way(s) you seek recommendation, by email on LinkedIn or a snail mail or just on the phone if someone calls. Or does the recommendation letter need to go directly on a form or has to be submitted online – again do your homework first, a second request would not tell good on you.
  • Is there a deadline when the recommendation letter should be submitted? Make sure you convey the same to the letter writer.
  • Thank the endorser, sincerely (now and later once you receive the letter).



Note: this is a general recommendation letter request that you are sending to your supervisor, professor, client or colleague, you must edit to personalize and add details of your particular situation:

Dear Greg,

I have recently interviewed for ABC Inc. and the HR is requesting a couple of valuable references from my previous supervisors to complete the hiring process. Your recommendation would be very valuable to me in getting this position that I have applied for. I hope you can provide me with a favorable letter of recommendation that I can forward to them in no later than two weeks from today. Please do let me know by this weekend if you would be willing to do so.

Also find a recent copy of my resume attached here. Please feel free to contact me if you would require any further information.

Request: Please return the letter of recommendation to me by Email (mention your preferred email address) /snail mail (write address and also provide a self addressed stamped envelope) or through an online form (write the complete website address here)

Deadline: The recommendation letter must reach me/institution/organization by mm/dd/yy, I sincerely appreciate your positive remarks and timely response.

I thank you for your support and time.



Tip: You may even provide a sample letter from your side; there may be some whom you contact who might be very busy in their schedules, or not prolific writers – your providing a sample can lighten their tasks and ensure a faster return. However make sure that you inform them that this is a sample only, they may use if they please and edit as appropriate.


More tips and retargets:

  • There are some good tips on how to ask for a letter for recommendation on About.com website.
  • Another University career center website (usually most of them have great career info) is the UC Davis Internship and Career Center. Here you will also find some samples of letters which you can use during job search.

Did you find this information useful? Pls share your experience on seeking recommendations that have worked or not worked during job search.