Writing letters of recommendation (LOR) can be a tedious and time consuming process if you let it be. Boiler platingLOR text is unethical in my opinion. However, the divide and conquer strategy that I’ve discussed throughout the Getting Through the Hay Series can still be applied here even if each LOR you write is unique.

To Whom It May Concern Written on Typewriter

We can easily split up this task up between the part requiring humanity and the parts requiring tedious busy work. The honest writing about the personal and professional qualities of the student requires humanity on your part. Looking up the proper name of the school or institution receiving the letter or gathering info about the students accomplishments on campus, is busy work and should be done by the student requesting the LOR.

To this end, I created a Word document that I require my students to fill out completely before I’ll write a letter on their behalf. It’s a series of questions including, “Why did you ask me to write on your behalf?” and “What would you, ideally, like me to discuss in your letter?” This takes the guesswork out of the process and dramatically reduces the time to completion.

I get a lot of these, so I used Gmail’s Canned Emails to save a pre-written response email to a LOR request. I placed the email on a server, so that I can hyperlink to it in my email’s text. This keeps me from having to even find and attach a file. Also, it allows you to use the same file and link location in your emails. Here is my Canned Email:

I’d be happy to write a letter of recommendation for you. However, before I write on your behalf, I’ll ask you to fill out this letter of recommendation request form. This helps me write the best letter possible, so please return it to me ASAP. You can download the request form here: http://gsu-bucket.s3.amazonaws.com/Letter_of_Recommendation_Form.doc

Please fill out this Word document in the spaces provided and then attach it to your reply email.

Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any other way.

Prof Palmer

Below is the letter of recommendation request form:

Letter of Recommendation Request Form