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jordym84's avatar

Can you help write an email requesting a reference from a previous instructor?

Asked by jordym84 (4742 points ) October 15th, 2012

I’m currently sending out job applications and some of them want references from past supervisors. 3 of my most recent supervisors won’t be able to give me references due to company policy (all they’re allowed to say is whether I worked for the company and when, which isn’t much help). My next most recent supervisors are 2 of my university professors for whom I worked as a teaching assistant during my junior and senior years. They would be able to give me really good reviews, but I haven’t been in touch with them since I graduated in 2010. I’m sure they still remember me, but I don’t want to just send them a random message out of the blue saying “hey, can you give me a reference?” I’ve come up with the following message to send them but somehow it just doesn’t have the “right ring” to it so I was hoping the collective would be able to give me some pointers and help me tweak the message a bit. I don’t want it to sound forceful, like I’m not giving them the option to decline. Here’s what I have so far:

Hi (instructor’s name),

How are you? How is everything at SU? I hope this message finds you well.

I don’t know if you still remember me, but I graduated with the Hospitality Management class of 2010 and was also a peer advisor and teaching assistant in HPM (our department).
The reason I am contacting you is because I am applying for a (____) position with (company name) and I would like to know if I could include you as one of my references. This is for an online application and it asks for the reference’s first and last names, title, employer, the nature of our relationship, how long we’ve known each other, phone number, email address and current location, all of which I will fill out once I get the okay from you and they will then contact you via phone or email with further instructions. If this is something you wouldn’t mind doing, please let me know if you would like me to send you anything (i.e. my resume or any other supporting documents) that would help you with give me an accurate recommendation.

Thank you so much, I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,
Jordy

Thank you all in advance, I look forward to seeing what you guys help me come up with!

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10 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Don’t use email. Type a letter. Don’t try to be so informal.

Dear Professor Scratchnsniff,

As you may recall, I was a student in your “Subliminal Advertising” course during the winter term of 2010. while enjoying your class I earned a B+, but also learned that placing manufactured smells in magazine will subconsciously encourage people to associate my hotel in the Midlands with a weekend on the Cote Basque.

The rest looks good, but sign with your whole name.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ ” Professor Scratchnsniff” lolol

marinelife's avatar

I like your approach, but I agree with Zenvelo that you need to sign your whole name. You can sign the email Jordy, but then put underneath it Jordy YourLastName.

I would also ask them how they prefer to be contacted.

jordym84's avatar

Thanks for the feedback so far, everyone. I do have my last name in the original draft, I just removed it before posting it here for privacy reasons.

bookish1's avatar

Contrary to @zenvelo, I am of the opinion that an email would be fine. However, I strongly second his suggestion to avoid being so informal. You have your genres confused between a business and a personal letter right now. I have had to write so many business letters to professors, asking them for recommendations for grants, etc. Even if the prof. in question tends to write very informal emails, it’s always better to err on the side of being more formal! I also advise you to de-clutter your writing and get to the point sooner.

Unless I had a close friendship with the professor, here is how I would approach it:

Dear Professor ______,

I hope this finds you well.

I graduated with the Hospitality Management class of 2010 and was also a peer advisor and teaching assistant in HPM.

I am writing because I am applying for a (____) position with (company name) and I wanted to ask if you would please consider providing me with a recommendation. The application is online, and if you agree, I would provide them with your contact information and then they would contact you and provide you a link to write the recommendation.

I would be happy to send you my resume or other documents if that would make it easier for you to write an accurate recommendation.

Thank you very much [in advance] for considering my request.

With my best regards,
Jordy Lastname

Best of luck with this @jordym84 !

bookish1's avatar

Whoa, I used “provide” three times in one paragraph. Sorry, I missed the time limit for editing. I’m sure you could come up with synonyms ;)

glacial's avatar

Your letter is good – and an email is perfectly appropriate to the situation.

The way @bookish1 presents it is exactly what I would recommend – more formal salutation and sign-off, and breaking the wall of text into paragraphs, so it requires less effort to read. Do whatever you can do to make it easier for your prof to help you, since you’re asking a favour.

jordym84's avatar

@bookish1 thank you!! I really like your edited version of my message. And no worries, I’ll be sure to replace some of the “provides” with something else lol

@zenvelo I need a quick reply and a letter would take too long.

I understand the importance of being professional, but I don’t want to sound too formal. I was fairly close to both of them and we had a very informal relationship, albeit professional. For example, I always stayed on campus during Thanksgiving break because my school was about 8 hours away from home and on more than one occasion I got to spend Thanksgiving with them and their respective families. It’s a bit hard to explain, but they’re the “cool professors” that are always joking around and don’t care much for formalities so much so that one of them hates being referred to as “professor so and so” and is adamant that everyone call her by her nickname.

Thank you all once again, I really appreciate the help :)

jordym84's avatar

Update: I emailed three of my closest professors a hybrid of my original message and @bookish1‘s version and they all responded within the hour saying they would be more than happy to give me recommendations :)

Thank you guys!!

bookish1's avatar

@jordym84, sweet, thanks for the update and so glad to hear it :) Good luck with that job !!

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