in a previous post I tried to take the easy route, just recommend someone else’s blogs on how to ask for a letter of recommendation. Somehow this does not work as I expected, so here are my quick bullet points for students, ex-students or anyone else who thinks a letter of recommendation from myself or anyone like me can be useful. (No irony intended. Okay, yes, a little irony was intended.)
1.) Please be aware that there is an inflation of LoRs. Nowadays even a small workshop or summer school wants such things. This means that professors need to write dozens of LoRs each month. To make this easier please be prepared when you approach the professor.
2.) Who wants the LoR? What do you know about them?
3.) Why do you want it? What for? (job search, stipend, summer school etc.)
4.) What do you want your professor to put into the LoR? You can lift the burden by suggesting specific issues yourself (language, previous experience,…). Should you prepare whole sentences? Well, sometimes it can be handy for a professor to include bits and pieces. LoRs are challenging for students to write, so do not try it. Most professors anyway insist in using their own writing style to keep in charge.
5.) The more specific you are in what you think helps your LoR the better. Background info such as a CV or a proposal (research, work…) is helpful, but often a bit cumbersome. Better give some specific ideas what to highlight or mention.
6.) Don’t forget to mention the most basic but most important details: Who is the recipient, address, deadline, mode of submission. In very few cases you will receive the LoR directly. Hence, the clearer the instructions where to send and when the quicker the LoR will get to its destination.
As always, let me know if I am missing something.