Sample Request for a Letter of Recommendation

Mary Gormandy White
Businessman giving thumbs up

If you need to ask someone to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf, it's best to put your request in writing. This way, the person you are asking to write the letter knows exactly what you want and will have easy access to all the information necessary to fulfill your request. The sample document provided here can form the basis of your own letter.

Recommendation Letter Request Template

When you click the image below, the template will open as a PDF document that you can customize to suit your purposes. Remember to include your relationship with the person that you are asking. Use this guide for printables if you need assistance.

When the document opens, you can edit it as much as needed. Simply click anywhere in the document to begin making your changes. You can save or print at any time by using the toolbar commands.

Tips When Asking for a Recommendation Letter

Throughout the above sample request of letter of recommendation, you will notice points are clear and concise. When asking for a recommendation, the message needs to get right to the point so the letter can be easily referenced and the reader knows his next course of action. It also needs to be free of errors and written using a professional, respectful tone. After all, you definitely want each person who receives your request to have a positive impression of your level of professionalism.

In addition to making sure that your letter is direct, clear and well-written, there are a few other guidelines you must consider when asking someone to write a recommendation letter.

  • Only ask people who know you well enough to provide the kind of recommendation you need. For example:
    • If you are applying for a scholarship, consider asking past teachers or others who have firsthand knowledge of your efforts as a student.
    • If you want to be considered for a leadership role in a charitable organization, ask people with whom you have worked on service projects.
    • If you need a job-related recommendation, ask people who have worked with you in the past.
  • When you ask a question, the answer might be no. Keep this in mind, and never put a person "on the spot" with this type of request. Be polite and gracious if your request is denied.
  • Try to lead up to the request to get a sense of the person's of comfort level with this type of action and/or whether it is a good time to make such a request. For example, it would not be a good idea to ask a CPA to write a recommendation for you during tax season.
  • Offer to provide more information that might help with writing the recommendation. For example, you could assemble a list of projects you worked on together or a written description of the reason you need the letter.
  • If the person is extremely busy, offer to write the recommendation so he or she only has to review and sign the document.
  • Alternatively, you may want to provide an outline for a sample letter of recommendation that the individual could edit slightly to use on your behalf.
  • Give the person as long as possible to write the recommendation letter, as allotting plenty of time will increase chances it will be completed.
  • Clearly communicate the deadline, so there is no confusion regarding when the letter has to be sent or received.
  • Provide a pre-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easy for the person to send the letter once it is written, with no out-of-pocket cost.
  • Consider requesting one or two more recommendation letters than you actually need. This will ensure that you will not find yourself short a letter if someone does not follow through.

Confirmation

Whether you send your request by mail or email, or deliver it in person, be sure to follow up with the recipient, ideally by phone or in-person with a quick conversation. After all, it would be an error in judgment to assume that everyone you ask will actually be willing and able to provide a recommendation letter for you.

You should confirm each recipient's intention to provide a letter of reference so that you are sure of where you stand and if you need to make additional requests to different people. It's best to follow up shortly after sending your letter of request. Allow enough time for your letter to arrive plus a day or two to increase the likelihood that the recipient has had time to read and think about your request.

Don't Forget to Follow Up

Further, follow up a few days before the deadline with each person who agrees to write a recommendation letter for you. This will allow you to verify which letters have been sent, and serve as an opportunity to remind those who are writing letters of the approaching cut-off date. You should also remember to thank them for helping you.

Sample Request for a Letter of Recommendation