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I'm graduating in a few weeks from a local University with an IT degree. I'm planning on applying to almost any form of IT related job; software developer, Quality Assurance, BA,BI, even an IT sysadmin. They all have their benefits and I'm not particular suited for one more than the other with my current degree.

I'm wondering if I should start asking for general letters of recommendation now before I even apply to jobs so I give professors sufficient time to create them. And possibly how to word my request since the jobs I'm aiming for are extremely general and broad in scope.

The other question is how to get a letter of recommendation followed by the ability to use them as a reference? I plan to use the letter as a way for the professor to remember me and not have to think on their feet of why they liked me.

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This answer comes from someone who has been a professor who has been asked for many reference letters, and also a hiring manager.

Unless you're applying to graduate school or specific programs which require letters of recommendation, asking your professors for letters that you're quite unlikely to use (see "How important is a recommendation letter for the employer?") is not the best idea. However, asking them to serve as personal references in your job search is a great idea -- if they've supervised your work or otherwise have a good relationship with you and can speak to your great qualities -- and for that you just want to secure their agreement as soon as possible.

When asking your professors if they'll act a reference, be sure to give them an idea of the types of positions you're applying to, and a sense of how many and how often your referees may be called upon to answer questions about you and your work. Many times your professor will have ideas about narrowing/focusing/targeting your job search.

If you are applying to jobs or programs that require letters of recommendation rather than conversations between HR/hiring managers and your referees, then you should approach your professors as soon as possible and give them as much time as you can possibly afford to give them, because -- wonderful though I am sure you are, you're not their only student looking for letters of recommendation ahead of graduation (although those students applying to graduate programs probably got their letters in the fall, so the herd is thinned a little!). When you ask for a letter, give your referee as much information about you (don't assume they remember all your great qualities or work) and your future plans, so that they can write a letter that is actually about you and your work and not a generic form letter. It is often very helpful to the letter writer to see examples of the specific job ads you plan to answer.

  • Great response! Just a heads up, I feel like you're missing a comma between "professor, asked". – Philip Apr 29 '14 at 22:30
  • Thanks. I didn't need a comma where you indicated, but I have made the sentence more clear for everyone. – jcmeloni Apr 29 '14 at 22:34
  • Oh! I misunderstood the original sentence. Thought it was a list. My mistake. – Philip Apr 30 '14 at 2:27
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Writing letter of recommendation is a part of professor's job.The professor must have to write letter for the good students for his or her classes.Don't ever hesitate to ask for a letter to your professor.Graduate school needed recommendation letter describing a student's academic ability.You should ask faculty members who know about your performance and give better comment to you about your performance in academic setting.

  • This does not answer the 'when and how'. It just says 'why'. – Jan Doggen May 1 '14 at 8:30

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