I take writing letters of recommendation seriously, which requires a significant amount of time and thought. It is therefore very important that I have sufficient information and lead time to write a strong letter. Here are some guidelines:
Timing: Please request to be recommended at least one month in advance of the earliest due date.
Information: In your initial request, please include:
The type(s) of position(s) you're applying for (graduate school, job, transfer, etc.)
The format of the recommendation (formal letter, phone call, etc.)
The earliest due date.
For the letter: If I agree to write a letter for you, please send me the following additional information at least 3 weeks in advance of the earliest due date:
What name do you prefer I use for the letter? (E.g., "Sam" vs. "Samuel")
For students, what is your year and major? For graduates, what year did you graduate, and with which major?
What are you most hoping I'll speak to in the letter? For example, for students:
Was I your research advisor? If so, what was exciting about the work you did with me, and how would you describe the ways you learned and grew through the research process?
Was I your teacher? If so, which class(es) have you taken with me, what grade did you earn, and how did you distinguish yourself in those classes?
Was I your TA supervisor? If so, how would you describe your biggest strengths, weaknesses, and growth as a TA? What did you do that facilitated student learning?
What specific skills are the position you're applying for interested in? A link to the program/job description and letter writer guidelines should be sufficient.
How would you describe yourself -- what are your key strengths? Favorite extracurricular activities? Long term goals?
Also send: a recent CV or resume, your unofficial transcripts, and your materials for the application (e.g., personal statement or research statement)