How to Get Strong Letters of Recommendation

Written by Michael Nz. on October 17, 2023

4 min read
Leave a comment

Woman using laptop writing a strong letter of recommendation in 2024

In the quest for scholarships, a student’s journey can often be greatly influenced by the strength of their letters of recommendation. These letters are the potent voices that vouch for your character, abilities, and potential. While the weight of this responsibility might seem daunting, fear not, for this guide will illuminate the path to securing strong letters of recommendation. Whether you’re seeking financial aid for college or aiming to stand out in the job market, the wisdom contained within will equip you with the tools to navigate this critical aspect of your academic and professional journey.

Know Your References

When considering references for a job application, you must be precise about who you decide to list. Knowing the bright spots across your network – and how your references can back up your claims – is essential for a successful job search. Utilize those people who can speak highly of your work capabilities, as well as your personality and character. You need references who have had recent and consistent interactions with you and can attest to your abilities. It’s important to get a reference’s agreement before including them on a list; otherwise, you risk accidentally failing to make the impression you’re aiming for. Make sure to cultivate relationships with those you plan on utilizing as references.

Reach Out to Your References in Advance

Before discussing the importance of references, let’s consider the elephant in the room: approaching them for the first time! It can be nerve-wracking for the best of us. You have to tread carefully as you build your network. But with enough preparation and strategy, you can make it happen – and get the references you need.

It’s important that you reach out to your references in a timely manner and with enough lead time to allow them to compose their thoughts. Whether you’re starting a new job, seeking an internship, applying to college, or going for another opportunity, you should reach out and give a beard-up of your situation. Then, provide them with the details of how, when, and what you need them to highlight and focus on. It’s the least you can do to ensure they’re fully prepared to give you the best reference possible.

Make a List of Your Accomplishments

When it comes to job applications, putting together a list of accomplishments is key. It’s an opportunity for applicants to go beyond their skills and experience, highlighting their successes in previous roles and how they can bring something special to the job. This is also a chance to brag a little if it is relevant and done confidently but humbly.

Making a list of accomplishments can help keep the application from getting cluttered and difficult to digest. It also allows applicants to highlight their most impressive accomplishments, demonstrating why they are the perfect fit for the job. A good list might include awards given, accolades and customer reviews, relevant certifications, promotions, and successful projects. When combining these with other application elements, such as experience and education, the applicant has the chance to present a compelling case that stands out to potential employers.

Share a Resume or CV

Including a resume, CV, or portfolio with your references can help them better understand your career and accomplishments. A summary of your experiences, such as your volunteer work, job roles, relevant internships or projects, and achievements like awards and accolades, can provide a comprehensive view of your strengths and capabilities. Additionally, including any specialized skills and certifications, such as coding or teaching qualifications, can demonstrate the unique value and leadership potential you bring to a role. Showcase what you’ve done, including team activities, which will help your references provide personal testimonies and stories. Remember, your references may have to present you to future employers – equip them with the materials they need to work in your favor.

Give Your References Background Information

When preparing to ask someone to be a reference, it’s important to give them some background information upfront. This can be anything from a brief overview of your role and responsibilities in a prior position to the particular skills and accomplishments you’d like to emphasize. Being upfront and transparent allows them to provide a more comprehensive and accurate recommendation.

When you provide your reference with background information, give them a timeline and any other pertinent details that can help give them a better understanding of your experience and successes. They should know the dates and times of employment, the teams you worked on, and the outcomes of any projects you worked on. It’s also beneficial to include any awards or recognition you have received that is relevant to the role for which you are applying.

Providing this information to your references will ensure that they can provide potential employers with a comprehensive and accurate account of your performance, skills, and experience.


As you embark on your quest for strong letters of recommendation, remember that this is not just a process; it’s a relationship. Nurture your connections with teachers, mentors, and employers, and approach them with thoughtfulness and gratitude. By following the steps we’ve outlined and seeking out the right people, you can ensure that your letters of recommendation are not just strong but authentic and genuinely reflective of your capabilities. The power of these letters should never be underestimated; they are your advocates in the world of opportunities. So, with your newfound knowledge and insights, stride confidently toward your goals, knowing that the voices in your recommendations will echo the promise of your future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search for more Scholarships