Recommend me! Whether it’s college or job applications, letters of recommendation are somehow always hard to come by. But it’s important to keep in mind that there are plenty of people on whom you have made an impression, either knowingly or unknowingly. With that said, when in need of a letter of recommendation, first and foremost it is important to have a good understanding of the place or institution to which you are applying. And so, your recommenders and letters of recommendation will vary based on the area that is of interest.
College. Although this may sound obvious, as an academic institution, your best source of recommendations for college are those in the field of academia. So teachers, guidance counselors, and even coaches, are a great source for college recommendations. When you approach a teacher, be sure that you have had at least a few interactions with this teacher in the past, or at the very least are doing well in their class. Once you meet any of those two criteria, most teachers are willing to assist! Guidance counselors; academic advisors are a little bit more tricky because honestly how well do you know your guidance counselor? He, or she, isn’t necessarily the person you develop the closest relationship with across your high school career. Nonetheless, guidance counselors can speak to your performance as a student over a significant period of time, and so when approaching your advisor for a recommendation, the best policy is honesty. Get to know your advisor a little better in that instant and explain the reason for your visit. Although their recommendation may not be as personal, it definitely speaks to your academic performance as a student. Lastly, coaches are also a fantastic source for college recommendations because you have most likely developed a closer relationship with your coach then any other person throughout your high school career.
Jobs. Although also true for college, it is even more important that you know your employer when requesting recommendations. Catering your recommendations to what your perspective employer is searching for is extremely important. What is crucial here is that your sources of recommendation, be it internships, volunteer-ships, previous jobs, etc., mirror the requirements of your prospective employer ( or that you can at least make it seem that way). And so, if you are applying to a position in the marketing field for example, you would want to have recommendations that best suit that position, possibly from prior internships in that field. And if worst comes to worst, professors in your area of study are also a great source of recommendations. As with high school, be sure that you have gotten to know your professors well, so their recommendation will be more personable.
Thank you. Don’t forget the thank you notes! Once an individual has written a letter of recommendation on your behalf, don’t forget to acknowledge it! Although a bit more informal, you can email your recommender a thank you note; or, this is my personal preference, you can mail a small thank you note with a hand written message to your recommender.
Overall recommendations might be a little difficult to obtain initially, but are definitely worth the effort in the long run!