Need a Recommendation Letter? Here’s How to Ask for One

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Many companies will ask you to include a letter of recommendation as part of your application. Asking for letters of recommendation can feel awkward and intimidating. That’s why we rounded these guidelines to make asking for one easier for you.

1) Choose the Right Person

Think carefully about who you’re asking for a letter of recommendation. Make sure that you’re asking someone who you have a good personal relationship with and who is familiar with your experience, accomplishments, growth and work ethic. This could be your manager, team leader or professor. While a letter of recommendation from someone who’s in a senior position can be impressive, a generic letter of recommendation without any real knowledge of you and your skills will most likely not be effective or helpful.

Tip: In terms of actually making the ask, a compliment can go a long way. Start out with how much you’ve enjoyed working with them or taking their course and how much you value their opinion.

2) Make it Easy to Recommend You

Make the process of writing the letter as easy as possible by providing the person who’s writing the letter with the information they need and telling them specifically what you would like to highlight; specific skills or projects that are relevant to your target position.

To do so effectively, send a copy of your resume and can create a sheet or document with a list of achievements, skills, projects, etc., that you would like them to highlight or mention in the letter.

3) Allow Enough Time

Be clear about when you need the letter to be ready and remember, you’re asking this person for a favor, so you need to be realistic with your expectations. It’s best to give contacts at least a week (ideally more) to craft the letter and return it to you. Also, don’t be afraid to follow-up and gently remind them the deadline is approaching.

Now let’s put all those tips into an easy-to-use template.

Dear [Name],

I hope this email finds you well.

I’m reaching out because I’m applying for [position/role] with [ company name] and I hoping you could write a letter of recommendation for me to emphasize why I’m a qualified fit for this kind of position.

I really enjoyed our time working together at [Company]—particularly when we collaborated on [project]. With that in mind, I thought you’d be a great person to vouch for my expertise in [key skill area] and my ability to [impressive result].

I know you’re busy, so I’ve attached a copy of my resume and a bulleted list of my recent accomplishments to make writing this letter a little easier. I’m also happy to meet to provide you with any additional information or answer any questions that you may have.

The deadline for the letter is [insert date]. I realize that writing a letter of recommendation will be a burden on your time, It means a lot to me that you would take the time to read and consider my request.

Many thanks,
[Your Name]