Letters Of Recommendation
When do you need letters of recommendation?
- Many graduate schools and an occasional employer will require you to submit letters of recommendation.
- Give your recommendation writers as much advance warning as possible, preferably at least a month.
What credentials service does BC offer?
- You may set up a credentials file through Interfolio.com, a web-based credential file management service. Online access to an electronically stored credentials file provides the greatest convenience and accessibility for users and for recommendation writers.
- More information about setting up a credentials file.
Whom should you ask to serve as your recommendation writers?
- People whom know you personally, either through your courses, your extracurricular activities or your paid work or internships.
- People who, preferably, know you in a context that is appropriate to the job to which you are applying (for research positions, you would typically ask professors with whom you had worked; for most other jobs, work and internship supervisors or advisors to extracurricular activities; a mix of people who know you in different contexts is probably best).
- People who are willing to say good things about you! If you're not sure, ASK. Be straightforward: "These are the skills my potential employers are looking for. Do you feel that you know me well enough to say positive things about me in these areas?" A less-than-positive recommendation can kill your chances at a job.
How can you best assist your recommendation writers?
- Never assume that an individual will write you a letter; rather, ask if the potential reference is willing to write a recommendation letter for you.
- Provide writers with stamped, addressed envelope for their convenience.
- Discuss future plans with reference writers and give deadline date for letters to be sent to the Career Center. At the very least, let them know who will be looking at these letters and what it is you are applying for.
- You may even want to provide your writers with a list of skills or expertise you want them to focus on, or create a personal "accomplishments" list that they can work from. Your writers will actually appreciate not having to create their recommendations "from scratch." Under the appropriate circumstances (say, if you and the writer have been out of touch for a while and they cannot remember much about you), you can offer to write a draft of a recommendation that your writer can work from.
- Graduating students should collect current letters of recommendation from deans, faculty, present or past employers.
What other resources can help?
- You may wish to print this page, along with the pages linked at the top of this page, and offer them to anyone who will be writing letters of reference for you).
- Graduate Admissions Essays -- What Works, What Doesn't, and Why
An EXCELLENT book, with samples of recommendation letters for graduate school. Available at the Career Resource Library.
- ALSO SEE: "Sample Faculty Reference Letter"