Recommendation Letters (and how best to ask for them)

Recommendation letters and references

I am happy to do them and consider them one of the most important parts of my job (and you thought all that classroom biz was it...).

What I need to do them well:

1. Your resume (or less likely, but possibly, your c.v….and what the difference between resume and cv even is from the Muse, original link)

2. A link to the program/job/award/fellowship/scholarship/whatever you are applying to

3. Information about how I'm sending the letter (e.g., they already gave you an e-mail address, you'll enter my name in a form for them to reach out to me)

4. The snail-mail street address (where the mail carrier would take the letter in the ancient days)

5. Due dates

6. An initial draft of a personal statement you'd feel comfortable sending to the application committee. It should detail what you want out of the program/job/award/fellowship/scholarship/whatever you are applying to.

For this part, I recommend you give me a roughly 250 word blurb sketching out the fairy tale of how your whole life has led up to this opportunity and what it will be important for launching you into next.

Psst, in case you think this request for 250 words is “extra,” I recommend considering it part of the minimum needed for a good job application, with or without me. Narratives are crucial to your career development. I may be demanding and petty, but that is actually besides the point. What was the point, again? Oh yeah: Narratives are crucial to your career development.

Got multiple submissions needing multiple letters?

My advice: Make a spreadsheet of all the links, addresses, due dates, etc.--for you really, but for me too. And make as many 250-word statements for as many different types of opportunities as you find yourself applying to. I know you don't like writing more than you have to, but you are probably not writing enough.

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