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Letters of Recommendation April 25, 2010

Posted by thinkphd in : Miscellaneous , trackback

From time to time, colleagues at work and students at school will ask for a letter of recommendation. I am always happy to accomodate these types of requests. Having been on the “asking” end of these letters, I know that it is sometimes difficult to decide who in my circle of influence can provide the most effective letter.

If you are a student, do not assume that your professor is always the best source. Unfortunately, sometimes this person may not know you as well as others! Pick someone who has seen you perform as a student. Have you considered your academic counselor or your dean? Provide some information so that the person can write an effective letter. To be honest, I have a one-size-fits-all generic letter that I can write for you, but if you tell me what masters or doctoral program or school you are applying to, I can tailor my letter to increase its impact.

If you are looking for a work-related recommendation, consider asking those in other departments or work groups that have been on the receiving end of your work. For example, suppose you work in the billing department; consider asking a credit manager or account manager to write a letter. Your boss is sometimes too obvious; of course you let your boss see how hard you work – but what about people you are not obligated to? A powerful recommendation can come from someone who is on the receiving end of your work!

When I write a letter of recommendation, I turn it into a pdf file; I do not give out an easily editable MS Word document. I always include my contact information and date the letter. I also date the information (such as “I worked with John from 2008-2009…” or “Trish was a student in my GEN/300 class in the fall of 2009…”).

Remember, pick your letter writer carefully and be specific as to the purpose or recipient of the letter.

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