3 Steps to Asking For a Letter of Recommendation

Nathan Parcells
3 Steps to Asking For a Letter of Recommendation

Does the idea of asking for a letter of recommendation make your palms sweat? It really shouldn’t. If you’ve made a strong connection with your supervisor throughout your summer internship, then they’ll be happy and maybe even honored to write a letter of recommendation for you. However, before you ask for this letter, you need to know who you should ask, how you should ask them, and what to offer them afterwards. Here are the steps to doing so.

1) Plan

Choose carefully who you want to ask for a recommendation. Having a superb letter of recommendation instead of a mediocre one could be the difference between landing a job or being rejected. Why do you love working with this person? Why do you respect them and value their opinion?

2) Phrase carefully

Set up a meeting with your manager and after discussing your current assignments and hearing their input, ask them about writing a letter of recommendation for you, but do so with care.  Phrase the question to them so they don’t feel obligated to say yes. For instance, ask, “Have we worked together enough this summer that you think you could write me a strong letter of recommendation?”  This is much better than “Would you please write me a letter of recommendation?”

3) “Thank you!!!”

Regardless of the answer your supervisor gives you, show them how grateful you are for how they’ve helped you grow this summer. Stay tuned for an article set to go live later in the week that will give you more detailed information on how to say thank you in a note and in person.

If your manager has agreed to give you a letter of recommendation:

1) Be specific

Give your supervisor the details of the job you’re applying for. If they know what specifically you’ll be doing as part of the job, they’ll be able to customize their letter to make it appeal to that particular employer.

2) Give them tools

Provide a template for your supervisor. Give them as many tools as you can.  Provide them with a list of bullet points outlining what you’d like the letter to say. Which one of your qualities and skills does this letter need to highlight? Note what you accomplished in the summer, including all projects you created and were a part of. Be as detailed as possible. You don’t have to put words in their mouth; just give them an outline for the full picture of who you are and what you’ve done. Ask what other ways you could make the process easier for them and be willing to help.

3) Check in consistently

Make sure your supervisor is comfortable throughout the process. If ever you sense that they don’t want to write the letter for you, tell them they don’t have to go through with it. If they aren’t enthusiastic about writing you a letter, you don’t want them to do it.  If they aren’t writing with passion, it will only hurt your chances of landing the job.

All the work that you did during your summer internship will pay off as your supervisor praises you in this letter of recommendation. If you have a stellar letter of recommendation in your application, it will be a huge benefit to you.

Want to find out more about National Intern Day and how you can win a cash prize? Head over to nationalinternday.com to get the scoop.