A good reference letter can go a long way in making your life better. Almost all colleges and work places require reference letters when they consider your admission or application. Here are some tips on how you can get the most out of your reference letter.
When getting a reference letter from someone, it is of utmost importance for you to make sure it is from someone who knows you well. It should be from a professor who has taught you for a long time- or a graduate student instructor who knows your work very well. Getting a letter from someone who just knows you superficially is not going to be of any use for you.
When selecting a letter writer, try choosing a person who is effective in letter writing, and a person who knows you well. Your reference letter should have solid, impressive evaluation. In case you want to get a reference letter from someone at a lower level, but would like a person at a higher level to vouch for it, you can just ask the person at the higher level to co-sign this reference letter.
A lot of people think it is okay for them to write a reference letter and give it to the reference signee. However, this is highly unethical. If you want a strong reference letter, you should talk to the writers of the letter beforehand, and make sure they write strong things about you. Provide them with the list of achievements, and the work you have done in the past few years – it will be a subtle reminder of how much you have aided the company in the past few years.
You might have to get in touch with the person writing your letter frequently. You should meet them a few times when the letter is being drafted. You can ask the person to show you the draft of what they have written, so you can see if something else should be included. If you think you have done something that has not been mentioned in the letter, don’t be shy from mentioning it. You can specifically ask the reference letter writer to focus on certain aspects of your performance, so that the letter will be more appealing to the admissions/ employment committee.
A good reference letter cannot be written in a matter of minutes. It will take a long time and you have to make sure you give this person enough time. This is why you need to approach the person for your reference letter at least 3 to 4 weeks before the deadline to submit the same. The person writing your reference letter might be busy, or you might need them to make some changes to the letter they have written for you. It is always better to ensure there is some time to rectify errors.
You have a right to read the recommendation letters being written about you. However, some people might be more comfortable writing a reference letter that is not being seen by the person they have written about. When you approach the person about your reference letter, ask them if they would rather write a confidential recommendation letter for you. If they say yes, it just means they will be more confident assessing you without your scrutiny. Many teachers and employers do prefer this option, so do not feel bad about it.
It is up to you to ensure that you keep a track of all the work done with the recommendation letter. You have to get in touch with the people writing the recommendation letter then you need to give them the material they need to write the letter. After this, you need to periodically check on them to see if they have had the time to write your letter, and ask them to send you the draft. Once you have received the reference letter, make sure you re-check it, to see if everything you need is in there.
After you have submitted your reference letter, get in touch with the employers or the admission centers and make sure that they have received the references and that your application process is complete. All the best in your future endeavor!