When it comes to applying to the academic program of your choice, most of the tasks are up to you. However, there’s one thing that you must leave to others. You’ll have to ask for letters of reference. Fortunately, if you’ve been a dedicated student and worker, most people will be happy to help you with this. Still, there’s a right way to go about asking.
In addition to this, not everyone has experience writing a letter of reference. Yes, your professors know what to do, but what if you need a reference letter from an employer? In addition to persuading them to write a letter, you may have to provide them with insights on the content and structure of that letter.
Reference letters provide an external proof that you have made important contributions, that you have the potential to become a leader in your chosen field, and that you have the character traits needed to succeed in advanced academic work.
Your professors will provide reference letters that validate your claims regarding your academic history. You need a letter of reference from your employer to show that you have been able to apply your best traits and knowledge in the real world.
The first thing you want to do is give your employer plenty of notice. They’re busy professionals, and, it’s a courtesy to give them time to do this for you. You should also make sure you have a positive history with the person, and that there is some relevance between your job and the Master’s program.
When you ask, be clear about what it’s for. Make sure they know the name of the school and program. Let them know the characteristics and experience that you are trying to showcase.
Finally, offer to help. Pass these tips along to your manager.
Nobody is obligated to write a letter of recommendation. Doing so when you are uncomfortable is almost assuredly a bad idea. If you become known for handing out reference letters indiscriminately, then before you know it, your recommendations won’t help the students who really deserve it. If you can not write a positive letter in good conscience, be honest. Ask the student to work with another employer.
To write a reference letter for a student, begin with a brief history. Let the reader know how you came to hire the student, and how long you have known them. This provides important background and context to the admissions committee. If you haven’t known the student very long, you might suggest they ask someone else for a reference.
Talk to the student to get details about the program they plan to attend. Ask them what they know about that program if they know everything about studying abroad, and what they understand the requirements for admission are. This way, you can write a very concise letter that specifically targets what the admissions committee wants to see.
Ask the student who works for you about the program they are trying to enter. Then, think of character traits that you’ve noticed in them that are relevant. For example, someone pursuing an MBA needs to be determined, a natural leader, but also very ethical. Someone entering a healing profession needs to have empathy and good problem-solving skills. Write a few brief sentences on this before you get into the ‘meat’ of your letter.
One of the best ways to provide a meaningful reference is to share an anecdote that demonstrates the student’s best traits. Have they ever gone out of the way to help a customer, solved a complicated problem that nobody else could, or come up with a brilliant idea that helped your bottom line? Maybe they organized an event or volunteer drive. Storytelling can make a bigger impact than simply listing off qualifications and personality traits.
If your employee is applying for an educational program in another country, their documents may need to be translated. Be sure to submit their letter in time for this to be done. You can also advise your employees on where to source trusted translation reviews to help them find a service to translate their application materials for them.
Generic superlatives won’t do much to help a student get into a challenging Master’s program. Specific details will. If you are able to quantify how the student has made meaningful contributions in the workplace, that can really help them. For example, don’t just say that the student improved customer service metrics. Instead, say that they created customer service policies that led to a 15% increase in customer satisfaction scores. This adds credibility to your recommendation and will help provide clarity to the student’s qualifications.
Even if your letter is absolutely glowing with praise, you should still close with a clear recommendation. Clarify that you think your employee would be a worthwhile addition to the program and that you are formally providing your endorsement. Making this direct statement can really make a difference in whether or not the student moves forward in the application process.
Even though it takes time to compose a powerful letter of recommendation, it is an honor to be asked to do so. It’s an indication that the student values your opinion of them, and that they believe you are held in high enough esteem that your endorsement of them will play an important role in a very major event in their life. If you accept the responsibility of writing a letter of recommendation, try following the tips above. They will help you to write a letter that contains all of the information the admission’s committee needs.