While applying for an academic program/course, a strong letter of recommendation exhibits your capabilities and character. It can provide you a competitive edge over hundreds or even thousands of competing applicants. The recommendation letter is a medium for the admission panel to get to know you through a third person who can speak impartially about your accomplishments, motivations, and personality traits.
Are you confused about who should recommend you? Don’t worry; we are here to guide you. First, request the letter from a referee who knows you from close quarters. He/she can explain why you will succeed in a rigorous academic program. If you have received a degree or pursuing one, this could be a professor or a mentor. If you’re a working professional, this could be a supervisor or your reporting manager. If you have finished your schooling or are on the verge of completing, then this could be your teacher. Always remember, the content of the letter is more important than the title of the reference.
There might be many referees from whom you can get a Recommendation Letter. But picking the best out of the lot is highly important. Usually, the recommenders are from your undergraduate/graduate institute (your respective department especially) and work/internship place (if applicable). So, does designation or tenure of service of the recommender matter for LoR? Honestly, it does. You can’t take a recommendation from a teacher who has just joined the institution and hardly knows you. On the other hand, an LoR from your academic institution’s dean or principal holds a lot of significance, provided he/she knows you in and out. An LoR from your company’s reporting manager makes a tangible difference, as he/she has personal knowledge about your skills and personality to thrive in a work environment.
An academic letter of recommendation highlights your academic achievements, intellectual insight and extracurricular talents. The letter expands upon your report card or transcript, providing insight into what kind of student you are, both inside and outside the classroom. Such an LoR can come from your professor at college or your teacher at school, depending upon which program you are applying to, graduate or undergraduate. You can request recommendations from your teachers, principal, dean, coach and other academic professionals who are familiar with your academic exploits or extracurricular achievements.
We can classify academic LORs into Faculty/Teacher LOR, internship LOR, Project/Research guide LOR, and School Counsellor LOR. You can collect an LoR from your internship supervisor/guide provided if he/she knows you for a period of at least six months. Moreover, you can seek the LoR from your academic supervisor who has guided you while conducting an academic project. The LoR from your academic/school counsellor is given prudent consideration and value by the admissions committee. While a teacher’s LoR focuses on the student’s academic capabilities and learning potential, an academic counsellor can emphasize the student’s personal growth and role within the educational community. He/she can talk about the strength of character and other skills as well.
A professional letter of recommendation should discuss your performance at the workplace and demonstrate the skills, experience, and abilities that you have displayed which best qualify you for the position. Reference to your personality, professional achievement, punctuality, teamwork, experience, skills and work ethic are the major points of discussion in a professional LOR. For this letter, you can approach your current or former employer, supervisor or someone else who has first-hand knowledge about you in a professional setup.
Normally, professional LoRs are written by a former/current employer or a direct supervisor. LoRs from colleagues and clients are also acceptable but are not as significant as those given by employers or supervisors. Candidates who do not have adequate recognized work experience to secure recommendations from an employer or supervisor should look for the recommendations from a community or voluntary organization.
So planning to go abroad? Find the apt person to recommend you and strengthen your case before the admissions committee.