Thursday, September 17, 2009

Recommendations for Requesting Letters of Recommendation

For graduate students who need letters of recommendation for the job market:

When you request a letter of recommendation, don’t assume that even your favorite and most enthusiastic professors will have all the information they need to write a good letter. Tell them as much as you can about the kinds of jobs you are looking for, your progress on the dissertation, your publications, etc., and anything else you can say about how you are presenting yourself.

Do this in writing, since they might forget the details after you leave the room.

Different faculty members have different thoughts about the documents they need to write a strong letter, so it would be best to prepare a set of documents for them to look through.

You should submit these documents to the faculty member after you have first approached them with your request for a letter, and you should ask them whether they prefer to receive the documents electronically or in hard copy.

This set of documents should include:
1. A statement listing information mentioned above--the kinds of positions for which you plan to apply, your progress on your dissertation, etc.
2. Your CV
3. An abstract of your dissertation
4. Your letter of application
5. A sample from your dissertation
6. A statement of your teaching philosophy
7. The form from Career Services--with your part of the form completed and signed (typed or in very neat handwriting)

Be sure to ask whether there is any additional information that might be useful--for example, additional chapters from your dissertation, or a copy of one of your publications.

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