How to request a letter of recommendation from a personal reference

Updated July 20, 2017

Personal reference letters of recommendation help you stand out from the crowd when included with applications for college, jobs, and club memberships. When appearing in court for any reason a personal reference letter supports your case, and when applying for a bank loan personal reference letters share with the reader your reliability. Good letters of recommendation are important, but it is vital to request reference letters from friends and acquaintances in a professional, respectful way.

Write a list of people whose recommendation would help you the most. If you have done any volunteer work, ask for a letter from the organisation you helped. You can also ask former co-workers, teachers, personal business associates and neighbours. Friends' opinions may appear less reliable than more unbiased parties' unless they have a high-ranking business title or experience with the position you are applying for.

Make appointments to speak with the people you want to ask. Dress professionally and prepare information explaining what the letter is for. Bring all relevant information and paperwork along with contact information for the group or person the letter will be addressed to.

Speak to the person you're requesting a letter from alone. Ask directly and politely, making eye-contact. Share the information you have brought including the background on the program you are applying to and your resume or any data showing why he should write the letter for you.

Thank the person you have requested to write the letter regardless of her response. If she agrees, give her a date to complete the letter by, with as much time as possible to write it. Offer to see the letter before she completes it if she would like your assistance. If she refuses, move on to the next person on your list.


One letter of recommendation is good, but three or more is better.

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