How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

You’ve stumbled upon the athletic training job of your dreams, and the icing on the cake? They’re actively seeking an athletic trainer just like you. 

Having ticked all the boxes in the application process—researching, refining your resume, crafting an impressive cover letter, and even extending a friendly LinkedIn request to the department head—you’re now searching for that extra edge to rise above the competition. Here’s a game-changer for you: consider obtaining a letter of recommendation.

Now, you might be wondering if it’s common for employers to request these letters. Truthfully, explicit requests for such documents are rare. Outside of junior roles or senior positions where character holds equal importance to skills, you’re more likely to be asked for references.

Should you bother securing these letters even if they’re not explicitly requested? Absolutely. While employers may not demand them, having a letter of recommendation can set you apart in the competitive job market. These letters offer hiring managers insights into your skills, especially when direct contact with former supervisors or athletic training program faculty isn’t possible. Beyond showcasing your qualifications for the role, these letters can be a confidence booster. On days when self-doubt creeps in, having a tangible reminder of your value can be incredibly reassuring.

Now, how do you go about requesting a letter of recommendation without breaking into a nervous sweat? Start by carefully choosing who to ask. We advise against burdening any one person with multiple requests and suggest that you consider individuals beyond your references. Also, ensure that those you approach have genuine knowledge of your work rather than opting for a high-ranking individual who might offer a generic recommendation. When making the ask, a little flattery can go a long way. Begin by expressing your appreciation for working with them and the value you place on their opinion.

To make the process painless for your recommender, provide them with the necessary information. Be clear about what you want them to highlight, whether it’s your work ethic, impact on a team, or specific skills relevant to your targeted roles. And don’t forget about timelines. Since you’re requesting a favor, be realistic with your expectations. Giving your contacts at least a week (preferably more) to draft and return the letter is a smart move.

Ready to put these tips into action? Let’s consolidate them into a user-friendly template:

Hi [Name],

I hope you’re having a great week!

I’m reaching out because I’m in the process of applying for a [type of role] with a [type of company], and I’m gathering letters of recommendation to highlight why I’m a perfect fit for this role.

I really enjoyed our time working together at [Company/School]. With that in mind, I thought you’d be a great person to vouch for my expertise in [key skill area] and my ability to [impressive result].

I understand you have a busy schedule. If it would make things easier, I’d be more than happy to provide additional talking points and information to streamline the letter-writing process.

Would you feel comfortable writing this letter for me? Feel free to send me any questions you might have. Let’s plan a coffee catch-up soon—my treat!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Letters of recommendation might not be a staple requirement in job searches as resumes or cover letters, but that doesn’t negate their potential impact. If the prospect of requesting these letters feels a tad uncomfortable, don’t let it hold you back. Take a deep breath, use the insights and template provided here, and go ahead—send that email. Equipped with one or two compelling letters, you’ll have a powerful tool at your disposal to demonstrate to employers that you’re the standout athletic training candidate they’ve been seeking.

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