Sample of the Proper Way to Ask for a Letter of Reference
Although what you say will depend upon your relationship to the individual to whom you are making the request, below is a sample of a letter written by a student to a former professor asking for a letter of reference:
Student name and address
Recipient Name and address
Dear (Professor's Name):
My name is Janie Student, and I was in your class, ENG 445: Studies in the American Short Story, in the fall semester of 2009. I don’t know if you remember or not, since you have had so many students, but I was the freckled-face redhead who always lingered after class to “pick" your brain about certain writers, specifically Faulkner, O’Connor, and Oates, who have always been high on my list of favorites. If I never thanked you for taking time to talk with me after class, I would like to do so now, for I am certain that your patience and tutelage contributed to my earning the “A" I received in the class. So, Mr. Educator, thank you.
I am writing because I will be graduating in the spring, with a major in English and minor in secondary education, and I am going to submit an application for employment to the Madison County School System. I did my student teaching last semester at Coleman High School, which is in the Madison system, and would like to return there if Coleman has any vacancies. On the other hand, I know I would be happy teaching at another school since my goal—and longtime dream—has always been to become a teacher, specifically a high school English teacher, so I could have a positive influence upon young people’s lives, as so many of my own teachers (you included) influenced my life.
Since positions are usually filled in the late spring, before summer vacation, I thought now would be the time to apply instead of waiting until after I graduate, so I am trying to get all required paperwork submitted to the school system, including four required letters of reference.
I know you are extremely busy, but I would greatly appreciate your writing a letter of reference on my behalf. I have included a stamped envelope for your convenience, along with the name and title of the person to whom you should address the letter (see insert). If you cannot, however, write the letter on my behalf, I will understand, but please let me know so I can ask someone else, although I would much prefer a letter from you. After all, you were my favorite professor at the University of Missouri, and I mean that sincerely.
If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact me at the telephone number below. Thank you.
Janie M. Student
In summary, apply these tips on how to ask for a letter of reference properly and people will be far more likely not only to provide a letter but also to say good things about you, and if the people you use as references say good things about you, it will greatly increase your chances of landing the ideal job after graduation.