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How to Prepare Your Recommenders for Success

When applying to graduate school or for a job, having strong letters of recommendation can make a significant difference in your chances of success. Recommenders play a crucial role in highlighting your skills, accomplishments, and potential to the admissions committee or hiring manager. However, it is essential to prepare your recommenders adequately to ensure that they can write compelling and effective letters on your behalf. In this article, we will discuss the steps you can take to prepare your recommenders for success.

1. Choose the right recommenders

The first step in preparing your recommenders for success is to choose the right individuals to write your letters. It is crucial to select recommenders who know you well and can speak to your abilities and qualifications. Ideally, your recommenders should be individuals who have supervised your work or have had significant interactions with you in an academic or professional setting.

When selecting recommenders, consider the following:

  • Choose individuals who can provide specific examples of your skills and accomplishments.
  • Consider the relevance of the recommender’s position or expertise to the program or job you are applying for.
  • Ensure that the recommenders have a positive opinion of your work and can write a strong letter of recommendation.

By choosing the right recommenders, you increase the likelihood of receiving compelling letters that highlight your strengths and qualifications.

2. Communicate Your Goals and Objectives

Once you have selected your recommenders, it is essential to communicate your goals and objectives to them. By sharing your aspirations and the specific programs or jobs you are applying for, you can help your recommenders tailor their letters to align with your objectives.

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When communicating with your recommenders, consider the following:

  • Provide them with a copy of your resume or CV to refresh their memory about your experiences and accomplishments.
  • Share any specific requirements or guidelines provided by the program or job application.
  • Discuss your long-term goals and how the program or job aligns with them.

By effectively communicating your goals and objectives, you can ensure that your recommenders have a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve and can highlight the most relevant aspects of your background.

3. Provide Supporting Materials

In addition to communicating your goals and objectives, it is helpful to provide your recommenders with supporting materials that can assist them in writing your letters. These materials can include samples of your work, transcripts, or any other relevant documents that showcase your abilities and accomplishments.

When providing supporting materials, consider the following:

  • Select materials that are directly related to the skills or qualities you want your recommenders to highlight.
  • Include a brief explanation of each document to provide context for your recommenders.
  • Offer to answer any questions or provide additional information if needed.

By providing supporting materials, you can give your recommenders a more comprehensive understanding of your abilities and provide them with specific examples to reference in their letters.

4. Schedule a Meeting or Call

While it is possible to prepare your recommenders solely through email communication, scheduling a meeting or call can be highly beneficial. A face-to-face or phone conversation allows for a more in-depth discussion of your goals, experiences, and the specific points you would like your recommenders to address in their letters.

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During the meeting or call, consider the following:

  • Provide your recommenders with an overview of the program or job you are applying for.
  • Discuss your strengths and accomplishments that you would like them to highlight.
  • Address any concerns or questions your recommenders may have.

By having a direct conversation, you can ensure that your recommenders have a clear understanding of your expectations and can ask any clarifying questions they may have.

5. Follow Up and Express Gratitude

After your recommenders have submitted their letters, it is essential to follow up and express your gratitude for their time and effort. A simple thank-you note or email can go a long way in maintaining a positive relationship with your recommenders and showing your appreciation for their support.

When following up and expressing gratitude, consider the following:

  • Send a personalized thank-you note to each recommender.
  • Share any positive outcomes or updates regarding your application or job search.
  • Offer to be a reference or provide support to your recommenders in the future.

By expressing your gratitude, you not only show your appreciation but also leave a positive impression that can benefit you in the future.


Preparing your recommenders for success is a crucial step in the application process. By choosing the right recommenders, communicating your goals and objectives, providing supporting materials, scheduling a meeting or call, and following up with gratitude, you can ensure that your recommenders are well-prepared to write compelling letters on your behalf.

Remember, the quality of your letters of recommendation can significantly impact your chances of success. By taking the time to prepare your recommenders adequately, you increase the likelihood of receiving strong letters that highlight your qualifications and increase your chances of achieving your academic or professional goals.

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