Common Mistakes When Asking a Reference for a Letter of Recommendation and How To Avoid Them


When you are applying to anything, whether it is a new job or a new grad school of some kind, you will usually be asked to provide references or get letters of recommendation, and this may happen as you are applying or only if the company or school wants to follow up. Either way, you need to be prepared with these answers, so follow along with this article if you want to avoid the most common mistakes people make when asking people to be their references or asking for a letter of recommendation.


Some people just have a few people that they always ask for references, but actually, it is best to ask yourself who the best references would be for this particular job, position or application. You need to tailor the person you ask to the specific situation. For example, you want to ask someone for whom you did similar projects with for a position where you will be working in that field.


Another piece of advice is to start this process early, especially if you are asking for a letter of recommendation. The reference needs to have plenty of time to write a letter or several and mail them out. If you ask last minute, they may write you a terrible letter of recommendation, or even worse, turn you down because they are too busy. You need to provide ample time and respect the time constraints of the reference you are asking for a Letter of Recommendation.


You also need to provide full information about the job or position at a school you are applying for, such as what the position is, why you think you are suited for it, what qualities and skills you hope they will write about in the letter of recommendation, and remind them of projects and achievements you had when working for them or with them. Watch a video at for samples of recommendation letters.


The last thing to know about asking a reference for a letter of recommendation is that you need to be extremely kind and gracious, as they are doing you a favor. Write a hand written thank you note for their trouble, and keep them in the loop about whether you have been accepted or declined to a program, or whether you got a job. You should stay in touch with your Reference Examples even when you are not doing the job search, as it is rude to only ask something of people when you need it, instead of making the effort to maintain real relationships.