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California State University, Long Beach
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Requesting a Recommendation

General Etiquette When Requesting a Letter of Recommendation

  • Request letters from those who know you. You should ask them, “Do you feel you know me well enough to write a letter of recommendation for me?” This gives them a way out if they don’t. Rather than saying, “will you write me a letter,” asking if they know you well enough or feel comfortable writing one is a better approach.
  • Give the person 3 to 4 weeks optimally, but never less than 2 weeks. Most folks are very busy and have numerous letters to write and so you want to be courteous.
  • Often, especially if they are faculty, they will want copies of your transcripts, a résumé, a statement of purpose (if writing graduate school letters), information on the program or place to which you are applying, and forms if provided.
  • Plan ahead to tell the person you have asked if you will pick up the letter personally, or would like it to be mailed. If you expect the person to mail the letter of recommendation, provide them with an addressed and stamped envelope. Do not expect them to provide these.
  • You need to say thank you and send a thank you to the individual who wrote your letter. That way they may write you another one if asked again.
  • Finally, let them know if you got the job, admitted, etc. It is a nice gesture to let us know our efforts were fruitful!

Start now to create the contacts you will need. Take more than one class from a faculty member whom you might want to write a letter on your behalf. Or if this is not possible, ask the instructor for a letter at the end of the semester (if appropriate). If you don’t do this, then you need to keep in contact with the instructor over time so they won’t forget you.

 

Want a Letter of Recommendation from a Learning Alliance Staff Member?

  • Allow at least 2 weeks for us to complete a recommendation, preferably longer.
  • Provide a list of activities, résumé or personal statement.
  • Submit a completed form.