Texas Tech University

Mailbag: Highly Recommended

Allen Ramsey

December 2, 2022

Letter of Recommendation

What to do when you need a letter of recommendation.

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Welcome back to the Mailbag!

We hope you all had a fine Thanksgiving and are ready to close out this fall semester in style. 

With finals on the way and another crop of Red Raiders about to graduate, we decided today would be a great day to talk about what comes next and hand out a little bit of advice from some of our instructors. 

The question we got was a good one:

What's the best way to get a letter of recommendation from a professor?

Letters of recommendation are a great tool in job searches. Whether you're trying to find a job after graduation or looking for some part-time work to hold you over, having somebody with a good reputation speak well on your behalf is a great way to get an employer's attention. 

For many college students, there just isn't enough work history to lean on old bosses, so they turn to professors. 

But what's the best way to go about it?

We reached out to the instructors in our office to get some best practices for students to follow when asking for a letter of recommendation. 

One of the newest members of our staff is Doug Hensley, who has been sharing his wisdom with students in the Department of Journalism for years. He's written more than a couple of letters for students and says there are a few things to keep in mind. 

  1. Don't expect a letter of recommendation until the semester is over. The professor wants to be able to evaluate your entire interaction with them before vouching for you, so they need to know how you did in the class as a whole.

  2. This should be intuitive, but if you don't have a positive relationship with the professor - if you're not an active participant in class or can't be counted on to finish assignments - asking for a letter of recommendation might not be the best idea. 

  3. It's important to let the professor know as many details as you can. Who should the professor address the letter to? What kind of job are you applying for? Is there any piece of work you'd like them to consider that you're especially proud of? What are the deadlines associated with the letter? 

Lucy Greenberg is also an instructor in the College of Media & Communication. She adds that approaching the professor in person, rather than via email, can make all the difference. 

“It really means a lot,” she said. “I would also advise them to follow up with an email and send me their resume because it might highlight accomplishments and skills that I wasn't aware of just from class. It lets me be a better advocate for the student.”

Sending a resume to the professor is also a chance to have a professional look it over before putting it out in the world. Most professors on campus have plenty of experience with looking at resumes and might be able to help you improve yours. 

The instructors on campus all want you to be successful, so if you have other questions pick out your favorite professor and reach out. Or shoot an email to the Mailbag and we'll do what we can to find answers for you. 

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