We all dread that time in our lives when we have to ask for a letter recommendation. It sometimes feels as awkward as asking for money. Whether you’re applying to graduate school, medical school, residency or a new job, the sentiments remain the same.
A quote that I live by is that “closed mouths don’t get fed”. You’ll never know until you ask. The worst that can happen is they say no. And then what? You can ask somebody else. Let’s not think about the negative but instead how we are going to a overcome our pride, nervousness and being shy.
Here’s three tips to get the letter recommendation that you want and need.
Make a Stellar Introduction
Whether it’s a 4 week class, 8 hour shadowing experience or a 30 minute conversation, you have to make a lasting impression. Make your first impression your best impression. Introduce yourself in the most lively manner tell the person about your goals, passions and backstory. When I needed a recommendation as a premed, I would introduce myself on the first day of class and then would follow up half way through class with questions during after hours or via email to get on a Professor’s radar. I made sure to just tell them how influential their course was to my degree progress and career goals. When the course ended, I did well in their class and followed up with a letter of recommendation request.
Stay in Touch
Send a thank you letter, email or text depending on context and tell the person how much you enjoyed your interaction and how much of an impact they’ve left on you. Acts of gratitude are so important.
Whether it’s face to face or via email, you have to ask! You’ll never know the answer until you ask! Make sure you ask them very early within your last interaction so that you are still fresh in their mind. Also offer to send a CV or resume or some other information to better help them draft a letter. Sometimes you can even offer to help draft the letter so that they have a mini biography of you and it makes it much easier for them. Whatever you can do to lessen their load do so to seal the deal.
When the letter is complete you should send a thank you letter immediately. Always waive your right to see the letter and provide the person with the means of uploading the letter to whichever service you are using.
Below is a sample template:
Good Morning Dr. Smith,
I hope this email finds you well. Since our last meeting, I have decided to apply for [medical school/residency/research position etc] My time spent in your practice has truly inspired me to be an outstanding physician through witnessing your meticulous teaching, clinical skills and compassionate patient care . I wanted to ask if you would feel comfortable writing a strong letter of recommendation on my behalf.
I am currently completing my final exam week, but I am happy to meet with you sometime in the next month at your earliest convenience. I understand your schedule is quite busy so, I wanted to inform you in advance. The application cycle for opens on September 1, 2020.
I am happy to send a copy of my CV and personal statement for your review.
Please let me know if you need any explanation or additional information, and I thank you for considering my request.