Do you need a recommendation letter from me?

Students have asked me to write recommendation letters for them. It is nice to know that I’m contributing a little to some exciting new chapters in their lives. Generally, I’m happy to do that for them even though it’s quite time-consuming.

In case you would like me to write a recommendation letter for you, here are two simple guidelines.

 1. Give me time to write a good letter

If you like to have a strong and credible recommendation from me (and why wouldn’t you?), you need to give me enough time to work on it. A rush job usually means a poor job — and that’s not going to be helpful to you. So give me at least 7 working weekdays, and more if your request comes in during my peak season. And please don’t bother to ask me for a letter to be done within one to two days. No matter now polite you ask and how valid your reason is, I will not entertain  “urgent” request.

2. Give me information to write a good letter

Tell me what the letter is for. Is it for a job application, graduate school application, exchange program application, or telling your girlfriend’s father why he should let you marry her? You should also provide me information such as an updated CV or resume. In addition, it is useful if you can let me know what you would like me to focus on in the letter. Your leadership quality? Communication skills? Sense of humor? The more information your provide, the easier it is for me to craft the letter. However, please note that (i) I may not use all or any of the information that you provide, and (ii) I don’t rubber stamp or simply sign off on a recommendation letter that your write for yourself.

You should also let me know whether I should send the letter directly to the requester or pass it to you. Letters for graduate school applications and prospective fathers-in-law tend to bypass you — so give me details about where to send these letters. And tell me upfront whether you want the letter in hard or soft copy.

The above-mentioned little things that you do will help me in helping you.