/ Career Development Center

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation by faculty, past or current employers and intern supervisors provide support for your abilities and accomplishments.

These letters are used to complete the information an employer needs to hire you, or a graduate program to admit you. Your recommendations should use their own letterhead, if possible, but some organizations may request use of their own forms.

Your professors and past employers may be asked to write many letters during the year, especially during spring semester. Your thoughtfulness and careful preparation will help the writer’s produce the best letter possible.

Remember: You must take the responsibility and initiative in the letter-writing process. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Find time to meet with the person to discuss your request for a letter
  • Do not slide the request under an office door, leave it in a mailbox or stop the person in the hallway
  • Make your statement in the form of request
  • Ask if the person could give you a positive recommendation; if not, find someone who can
  • Ask if the person would be able to give you a specific recommendation — if he or she does not know you well enough to provide specific comments, the letter will not be effective, and you will want to ask someone else
  • Be willing to take “no” for an answer

Most Hope students and alumni can access Interfolio, an online application portfolio management service. Interfolio is the easiest and most affordable way to manage the following job search/graduate school correspondence online:

  • Confidential and non-confidential letters of recommendation
  • Résumés
  • Statement(s) of purpose
  • Writing samples
  • Teaching portfolio documents
  • Supervising teacher evaluations
  • Student and peer evaluations
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Allow at least three weeks for the person to write the letter.
  • Provide the person with all relevant forms and instructions, and fill in all the information that you’re responsible for providing.
    • Put all materials in a large labeled (name, address and phone) envelope so the materials will not get lost
    • If the organization provides a form for the letter or general instructions for preparing letters, include that with your request information
    • Make sure the person has the correct name, title, organization and address
    • Make sure the writer is aware of the deadline for submitting the letter
  • Provide the writer with your resume and statement of your goals. If it is for a university application, include the Statement of Purpose if appropriate.
    • Details of major(s) and minor(s), which classes you may have taken from a particular professor, when you took the class(es), special projects, class participation and how well you did
    • Reminders of teaching assistantships, internships or research projects
    • Statement of career goals and reasons for choosing the university or job for which you are applying
    • Information on some of your college activities or accomplishments, especially leadership positions and awards
  • If the person is to send the letter to an employer or school, provide a stamped, addressed envelope for each recommendation.
  • Politely check with the writer a few days before the deadline to see if the letter has been completed and sent.
  • Follow up with a thank you note to the writers. These letters take time,  thought and effort. Also send a note when your plans have been finalized and your job or school search is complete.