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  • Writer's pictureJustin Grimes

How do I confidently obtain a high-quality letter of recommendation?

In both professional and academic spheres, a well-crafted letter of recommendation (LOR) can be a game-changer, opening doors to new opportunities and validating your skills and achievements. Whether you're a working professional seeking career growth or a college student preparing for the next academic chapter, securing a compelling letter of recommendation requires finesse, communication, and gratitude. Let's delve into obtaining a high-quality letter to get you admitted, accepted, or hired.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your confidence in your requests for a letter of recommendation?

Importance of Providing Insight

When approaching someone for a letter of recommendation, it's crucial to provide them with valuable insights into your goals, achievements, and the specific qualities you would like them to highlight. This not only streamlines the process for your recommender but also ensures that the letter aligns with your aspirations. Whether you're seeking a job promotion or applying for graduate school, giving your recommender context empowers them to tailor the letter to your needs.

Give Adequate Time and deadlines.

How can you expect people to know when you need your LOR without a deadline? Time is of the essence when it comes to requesting a letter of recommendation. However, a rushed recommendation may lack the depth and detail that can set you apart. Initiate the request well in advance, allowing your recommender the time to reflect on your strengths and compose a letter that genuinely reflects your capabilities. Be mindful of application or submission deadlines, and work backward to give a deadline of 4-6 weeks minimum before the LOR is due. Providing a well-defined timeframe not only shows your professionalism but also allows your recommender to manage their schedule effectively.

Expressing Gratitude

Gratitude goes a long way. Remember that writing a letter of recommendation is a privilege and not a requirement. LOR are time stealers for your recommender. Once you receive your LOR, express your sincere thanks. A heartfelt note, email, or a small token of appreciation (nothing over the price of a cup of coffee) can make a big difference. Not only does this reinforce your appreciation for their support, but it also fosters a positive and lasting professional relationship.

Provide updates

You have asked this person to take time out of their busy schedules to share insight about you for an opportunity that offers more significant benefit to you than them. Minimally, share updates on what happened after the letter was submitted. Did you get the job, scholarship, admissions letter, etc? You want to maintain the relationship. Once you use the funds, start the graduate program, or start a new job, share updates on their letter's impact on you. Don't make this a one-and-done situation. You never know whom they are connected to or what opportunities will come from maintaining the relationship.

What should I do with my time to get a letter of recommendation that will get me admitted into grad school?

Choose the Right Recommender: Select someone who knows you well and can speak to your strengths and achievements as a student, employee, and/or professional. This could be a supervisor, professor, or colleague who has observed your work closely. Also, choose a person who has the time and greatly benefits you and them by having them write your LOR.

Submit a Detailed Request: Clearly articulate why you're seeking their recommendation and what key points you'd like them to highlight. Share your goals and any specific achievements you'd like them to focus on. It would be beneficial to provide an outline with 3 requests.

Follow Up Politely: If the deadline is approaching and you have not received confirmation, a polite follow-up is acceptable. Express your gratitude again and kindly inquire about the progress. If they don't reply or reach your deadline, thank them for their time.

Offer a Draft or Bullet Points: To make it easier for your recommender, consider offering a draft or a list of key points they can incorporate into the letter. This ensures that the letter aligns with your goals. We cover this in our book, so click here to buy a copy.

Stay Organized: Keep track of deadlines, submission requirements, and any additional information your recommender might need. Being organized demonstrates your commitment and professionalism. If you want to receive access to a resource that will help you track this information and more, email us at

In conclusion, obtaining a letter of recommendation is a collaborative process that requires effective communication, appreciation, and strategic planning. By following these tips and respecting your recommender's time and efforts, you can secure a letter that meets and exceeds expectations, propelling you toward success in your chosen path.

On page 71 of the book, we provide you with an email template you can use to obtain your letter of recommendation following all these steps.  If you want more assistance obtaining your high-quality recommendation letter, email us at

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