What are recommendations for?

Recommendations are meant to provide a third-person perspective on you as an individual. While your grades/scores are supposed to represent your intellectual capabilities and your essay allows you the opportunity of presenting your point of view, recommendations by those who know you give the university an independent assessment of your skills and qualities. Unfortunately, a number of applications ask for elaborate recommendations that are frequently a burden on faculty and superiors. It's not uncommon to hear of faculty asking the student to write his/her own recommendation and then editing them for effect. This is even more likely to be the case in a work environment, where few would like to waste their time answering often absurd questions. In response to requests from visitors to our site, we've decided to provide some advice on how to make the most of your recommendations.

Here's what we, ..uh, recommend...

Please note that by no means do we endorse the practice of applicants writing their own recommendations. It put many students in a position they'd rather not be in. But the sad fact is that many applicants have little say in this matter. And even if you are fortunate enough to have people around you who are prepared to write up their own recommendations for you, there are certain aspects you could try to keep in mind. Hence this section should be useful for all applicants.

Selecting the right people to recommend you:

Do they know you well enough: You don't want to go for someone who doesn't remember your name. Which is why it's always prudent to stick with immediate superiors or professors (in an academic setting). More importantly, will the university believe that they know you well enough. If the CEO of the firm where you interned is recommending you, make sure it's clear that your interaction with the recommender is apparent in the write-up. The University could very well question the credibility of a recommendation if it appears to have been manipulated. How much credibility are they likely to hold with the university: In academia, professors are likely to carry more weight compared to lab-assistants. In any case, make sure that the professional competence of the person recommending you is apparent. Are they likely to give you a positive recommendation : And you want to be doubly sure of this. You may want to stay away from the unreliable ones. If necessary, approach the person and ask them upfront. Since they're likely to have written recommendations for applicants before, it's not too much to expect them to understand your anxiety. However, use your discretion in case you aren't too sure of how he/she will react. Get some variety into your recommendations : For multiple recommendations, look out for whether the recommendations are likely to rehash the same aspects of your personality. As far as possible, get recommendations from people who've interacted with you in different situations. For example, an engineering student would be well advised to get recommendations from a professor, a lab instructor and someone like a project guide. The professor could attest to the student's keen sense of class participation. The instructor could focus on his/her skills in the laboratory and the project-guide on his/her flair for research and getting to the root of problems. Co-ordinate your recommendations with the rest of your application: If the somewhere in rest of your application you've focused on something like a particular project, it would be particularly useful to try and build on that by providing a recommendation from the person who guided you through that project. Likewise, if you've talked about your biggest achievement at work, how about getting your boss at the time to recommend you.

How to go about doing it

Make a list of persons you are going to ask to recommend you.: If possible, jot down a few extra names whom you could depend on in case of an emergency. Make sure they are willing to do so.: Talk it over with them. See if they are reasonably sure they'd like to do for you. Be clear that recommendations are a pain for everyone involved, but most so for those who have to actually write them up. No one enjoys writing recommendations. And so you can't depend on someone who isn't too sure he/she'd like to recommend you. Make sure they know what you want to do: If they knew you were interested in marketing research and not finance, maybe they wouldn't have said that you'd be a great asset to the finance class. Of course, the persons recommending you are often busy people, so you may want to give them a note alongside the rest of the material we've listed in our next point. ShowTime : Each of the persons recommending you deserves a copy of your resume. Along with that, give them the original recommendation form and a copy too. In this copy, give them points that you'd like covered in their write-up. If the form asks them to list an incident where you displayed leadership skills, it'd make it easier for them if you have provided them with a few incidents that you think would be suitable. Let them do the descriptive part. Your job is to make sure they remember a few relevant incidents. You could even attach a note saying that you'd rather they talk about your pet project, etc. Related Issues: Make your timeframe absolutely clear. And while we're on the topic, be considerate and give them a few weeks to prepare your recommendation. Be sure that you've given yourself a buffer of a week or two to make up for unexpected exigencies. Also clear up whether they'd like to mail the recommendation themselves or whether they want you to do the needful. Consult the application brochure to make sure you're aware of what your university prefers.

The Recommendation letter

  • Should be placed in an official, sealed envelope.
  • Should include institutional / Employer seal and signature.
  • The seal stamp or signature of the authorized person must overlap the flap closure and envelope.
  • The sealed envelope can be submitted to the university/college either directly by the applicant or directly by the issuing body.
  • If seal is broken or envelope opened, documents will be rejected/ not considered for the admission.
 Sample Copy letter of recommendation from Teacher /Faculty It should be on University/College/Institute letterhead. Signed, Stamped and in the Sealed Envelope. Dear Sir / Madam, It is my great pleasure to write this letter in support of (Name of the student)’s application to your esteemed university. I instructed (Name of the student)for the course Introduction to the _________ Industry. He / She was unquestionably one of the most able students in the class, and his / her work in the class consistently reflected a level of insightfulness and attention to detail that is unique to (Name of the student). His / Her reports were always prepared on time, and he / she stood out among his / her peers for his / her eagerness to engage in the process of learning and discovery. Simply put, (Name of the student) was a true pleasure to have in class. (Name of the student) was happy to voice his / her own viewpoints during class discussions, and often asked me for further clarification of points I covered in my lecture. In addition to his / her confidence and eagerness to learn, (Name of the student) also made a good impression on me due to his / her pleasant personality. Certainly, he / she seemed to get on well with classmates and teachers at all times, and I imagine that he / she will do the same when he / she is in your institution. Based on my observation of his / her abilities, I strongly believe he / she has the potential to be an outstanding student at your university. I therefore recommend him / her for admission to your master’s program. Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information. Yours sincerely,Name Position Department University/College/Institute nameSample Copy letter of recommendation from employer   Should be on Company Letterhead Signed, Stamped and in the Sealed Envelope. To Whom It May Concern: It is my great pleasure to write this letter of recommendation for (Name of the employee). I have had the pleasure of viewing (Name of the employee)’s professional development over the past _____years, and I can state with confidence that he / she is a motivated and responsible person with a high degree of integrity. As such, I expect that he /she will be a very positive addition to your institution. As the Chairman of (Name of the organization) I feel that I know (Name of the employee) quite well. He / She began working part-time as a (Name of the designation) in our company’s _______ Department while he /she were still an undergraduate. In this role, he / she had a considerable amount of responsibilities, and he / she handled them effortlessly. He / she showed his skills to communicate with both customers and the sales staff, and due to his dedication and attention to detail, our company saw an increase in sales during this period. At the same time, (Name of the employee) was studying (Name of the Program) in the university. His / her academic training and abilities gradually became evident, and after he / she graduated from the university, we promoted him / her to the role of (Name of the designation) to the Managing Director, as we felt that he had already proven his / her management and communication skills and would be suitable for this position. He / she proved us right, and he / she has become an important, effective, and integral part of our management team. (Name of the employee) takes the initiative to identify problems and devise solutions. His / her role requires strong communication skills, and he / she has shown that he / she not only has these skills, but that he / she also has the ability to inspire respect and cooperation in teammates. He / she has shown that he / she is a very intelligent person with a mind well-suited to the world of business and management. (Name of the employee) has informed me that he / she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in ___________________, and I feel that this is an appropriate choice for him / her. Based on my observation, he / she clearly has the interest to excel in this field, and based on his / her performance, he / she clearly has the ability to achieve success. I therefore highly recommend him to your master’s program without reservation. I sincerely hope that you give his / her application favorable consideration. If you need any further information about (Name of the employee), please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely,Name Position Company Name