Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

peppy
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:02 am

Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby peppy » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:07 pm

I had a few questions about letters of recommendation from my former professors.

First question: I am applying for a job at a university (not graduate school but actual salary job). I need to make up a fancy resume, cover letter, ect. Is it normally ok to ask professors to send me the letters so I can make copies to send out to employers? Also, are students supposed to be reading these letters? I ask because when I asked for letters in the past for scholarships, they would put them in envelopes that aren't supposed to be opened except by the scholarship people, so I assumed it was a private matter and not for the student to read.

Second question: I am getting ready to apply for graduate schools as well and I was thinking of maybe applying for like 20 places, and each one asks for 3 letters of recommendation. Is it rude or annoying to suddenly start requesting 20 letters all at once or just send them a request every other day or something?

Third question: I haven't had contact with my professors since the day I graduated 8 months ago. How should I ask them for a bunch of recommendation letters suddenly out of the blue like that? I also live 100s of miles away now so I can't meet them in person, so I would have to email them as well.

Any other advice on how to ask my professors for letters of recommendation would be appreciated.

Thanks

geshi
Posts: 200
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby geshi » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:29 pm

Hope this is helpful:

1: You have the right to exam academic letters of reference if you do not choose to waive your rights. It's required by law of US schools. I usually waive my rights because I don't really care to read the letters myself. I assume they're writing me good letters. That being said, this is a law for schools. I don't know how the "real world" works. Personally, I'd ask my references if they knew about how "real world" references work. You could also check with the employers to see what they say.

2: I have 3 references that are doing 15 recommendations each for me. Although, I did ask months in advance and I asked them if 15 was too many for them. They all told me they really send out the same letter 15 times. All it meant for them was to fill out the extra form for some schools (some schools have a little form that has some check boxes in addition to the letter). Personally, I'd ask if 20 was too many for them, but that's just me. You could consider having multiple references if they said no more than x number. You could have each do 10 and then you'd only need 6 references.

3: When I asked, I said "would you feel comfortable writing me a letter of recommendation?" I might also remind them of who you are (I had you for yada yada class, etc) if you think they might not remember you.

Best of luck to you.

kroner
Posts: 218
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:58 am

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby kroner » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:39 pm

I heard that it reflects poorly if you don't waive your right to see the letters for the grad school apps. I don't know if this is actually true. I guess there's no way they can know if you ask your recommenders directly to see the letters they're writing although I don't know what the etiquette is concerning that. I also don't know what the rules are like surrounding job applications.

User avatar
grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby grae313 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:46 pm

It is in bad taste to have access to your letters. The whole process is compromised if the instructor does not feel free to write whatever he/she wants knowing you'll never see it. Also, it is way more annoying to have someone request 20 letters over a period of multiple days. They're just making copies of the letter, not typing it out all over again, so 20 isn't much more of a pain then 5. If you did make a good impression on them, they will be quite happy to help you when you ask so don't worry about it. I've been in grad school for a year and a half on the other side of the country from where I went to undergrad and just had to email my old profs to write me a letter for a fellowship app--they were happy to do it.

20 is a shitload of places though, do you really need to apply to that many? Are there really solid research groups at each of these places that you'd be interested in joining? Unless you are combating the two-body problem I really think this is overboard and you should try and do more research on the schools and narrow it down to at least 15.

palitre
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:31 am

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby palitre » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:19 am

i asked my professors in person and also via email.
i provided self-addressed, stamped envelopes for their convenience.
i sent them thank-you emails.
they wrote me wonderful Letters of Recommendation!!
good luck :D

microacg
Posts: 62
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:06 pm

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby microacg » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:31 am

kroner wrote:I heard that it reflects poorly if you don't waive your right to see the letters for the grad school apps. I don't know if this is actually true. I guess there's no way they can know if you ask your recommenders directly to see the letters they're writing although I don't know what the etiquette is concerning that. I also don't know what the rules are like surrounding job applications.

Old thread, but this has already been mentioned so I'll bring it up here. I'm filling out letter of recommendation forms, etc.

Regarding waiving your rights, I'm a bit puzzled.

You can select to waive your rights.
You can select to NOT waive your rights.
You can leave the question blank.

What happens if you leave it blank? The recommendation writer might see it and check off one of the options for you. Alternately, they might not even notice/care.

One of my forms implies leaving it blank is the same thing as waiving your rights (although it isn't clear). This doesn't make sense to me though. How can people have rights that they need to do something special in order to NOT waive them?

User avatar
midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby midwestphysics » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:42 am

microacg wrote:
kroner wrote:I heard that it reflects poorly if you don't waive your right to see the letters for the grad school apps. I don't know if this is actually true. I guess there's no way they can know if you ask your recommenders directly to see the letters they're writing although I don't know what the etiquette is concerning that. I also don't know what the rules are like surrounding job applications.

Old thread, but this has already been mentioned so I'll bring it up here. I'm filling out letter of recommendation forms, etc.

Regarding waiving your rights, I'm a bit puzzled.

You can select to waive your rights.
You can select to NOT waive your rights.
You can leave the question blank.

What happens if you leave it blank? The recommendation writer might see it and check off one of the options for you. Alternately, they might not even notice/care.

One of my forms implies leaving it blank is the same thing as waiving your rights (although it isn't clear). This doesn't make sense to me though. How can people have rights that they need to do something special in order to NOT waive them?


I'm assuming you're talking about filling out letters to give to someone you want to recommend you, rather than filling them out to recommend someone else. In that case, just waive your rights, otherwise the weight of that letter will be less than the paper it's printed on. You should have a very good idea about what your recommenders will write well before you even ask them to write you one. And if you have doubts or don't know at all, they're not the people you want writing you letters. So, if you've done your homework waive your rights, because the process is not about you finding out what they think of you to your face, but about grad schools finding out what they think of you without you knowing. It's about getting into grad school, not sugar-coated praise which is all a grad committee would think it is if the student has the right to see what was written. Just waive your rights, it's a waste if you don't, and a waste if you leave any ambiguity.

microacg
Posts: 62
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:06 pm

Re: Letter of Recommendation Etiquette Questions

Postby microacg » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:17 pm

midwestphysics wrote:
microacg wrote:
kroner wrote:I heard that it reflects poorly if you don't waive your right to see the letters for the grad school apps. I don't know if this is actually true. I guess there's no way they can know if you ask your recommenders directly to see the letters they're writing although I don't know what the etiquette is concerning that. I also don't know what the rules are like surrounding job applications.

Old thread, but this has already been mentioned so I'll bring it up here. I'm filling out letter of recommendation forms, etc.

Regarding waiving your rights, I'm a bit puzzled.

You can select to waive your rights.
You can select to NOT waive your rights.
You can leave the question blank.

What happens if you leave it blank? The recommendation writer might see it and check off one of the options for you. Alternately, they might not even notice/care.

One of my forms implies leaving it blank is the same thing as waiving your rights (although it isn't clear). This doesn't make sense to me though. How can people have rights that they need to do something special in order to NOT waive them?


I'm assuming you're talking about filling out letters to give to someone you want to recommend you, rather than filling them out to recommend someone else. In that case, just waive your rights, otherwise the weight of that letter will be less than the paper it's printed on. You should have a very good idea about what your recommenders will write well before you even ask them to write you one. And if you have doubts or don't know at all, they're not the people you want writing you letters. So, if you've done your homework waive your rights, because the process is not about you finding out what they think of you to your face, but about grad schools finding out what they think of you without you knowing. It's about getting into grad school, not sugar-coated praise which is all a grad committee would think it is if the student has the right to see what was written. Just waive your rights, it's a waste if you don't, and a waste if you leave any ambiguity.

Thanks, this is what I ended up doing.

However, one of my letter writers was procrastinating a bit (as she often does) and then, right when she was going to do it, her 18 year old nephew was hit by a train and now she's busy planning a funeral so I need to ask someone else :cry:

I hope it isn't held against me that the person I wrote in to the online application isn't one of the people who ultimately sends in letters (I had to go to someone with cancer as my backup... I'm not very luck with this stuff).




Return to “Letters of Recommendation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest