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Writing a Letter of Recommendation for College, Internships, Graduate School, Jobs: Step 1 Gathering the Data From Your Employee

November 10th, 2007 · No Comments · Human Resources

Supervise high school and college students long enough and you know that November kicks off Letter of Recommendation season. I tell staff at training that I will gladly consider writing a letter of recommendation for college admission, graduate school admission, or future employment so perhaps I bring this extra work on myself. A quality letter of recommendation is a benefit of their tenure with us and we talk it up as a feature of our retention program. Staff know that with great work comes great recommendations and this is one of the many reasons they come back year after year. We focus on long-term job skills and self-understanding through the work of camp.

Gathering the necessary information from your employee can make this entire process of writing a letter of recommendation more efficient. Over the years I have developed a series of questions I ask when I receive a request for a letter of recommendation. It helps get all the necessary information and requires the requester contribute some details for the letter. Feel free to copy these questions and make them your own. If you have suggestions for additional ones – let me know!


Dear Staff Member:
I have received your request for a letter of recommendation. To facilitate this process, please answer the questions below.

1. What is the purpose of the letter?
Internship, college application, graduate school, general letter, job, etc.

2. How do you want the letter sent?
Do you want the letter mailed to you or the organization? Does it get uploaded to the school’s web site? Some programs would like you to submit the letter with your packet in a sealed envelope, others want the letter sent from the recommender directly to the organization.

3. Is there a form that needs to go with the letter?
Some schools have a recommendation form with a waiver you need to sign so the letter of recommendation remains confidential. I’ll send you my mailing address if you need to send me that form.


4. What date do you need it in your hands or in the hands of the organization?
Please allow for at least 2-3 weeks for me to complete your letter. If you are on a tighter schedule let me know and I can work with you to get it done.

5. Please list the dates I have known you and in what capacity.
For example, what positions have you held at camp or when have you been in my class or graduate seminar?

6. Send me your personal information for the letter.
Send me the spelling of your legal name that you are using on all your documents. Attach your resume and, if you have one, a statement of purpose or college essay. If you are applying to college they may like your date of birth to be on the letter so it does not get lost. Please send me those details if your letter requires it.

7. What are you trying to emphasize?
Please list the qualities you would like highlighted in this letter AND include specific examples of times when you displayed these qualities. The more specific the better. If you would like to talk about what you need to highlight for a particular school program or job opportunity set up a time with me to talk and I can brainstorm with you.

8. Organize the materials for multiple letters.
If you are requesting multiple letters please send me the materials organized in a large envelope with self-addressed stamped envelopes for each letter. Attach a post-it note to each letter with the date it is due. When multiple letters are involved going to a variety of schools, keeping it organized for the recommender is essential.

I will notify you when the letter goes out. Please follow-up before it is due if you have not heard that it has been sent. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

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