State of the Nation

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, April 5, 2010

As spring commences, two of a professor's less desirable job requirements come to fruition: ordering fall books, and writing letters of recommendation (LOR) for students. One of favorite web sites, Rate Your Students, recently discussed the topic of letters, and a colleague was ruing the demand that would be placed upon him.

I told him that I have basically created a "Mad Libs" LOR form:

  • In the first paragraph is the student's name and how I know him/her (usually from the classes they have taken from me)
  • In the second paragraph, I discuss in a sentence or two what each class required, rank the student compared to others I've taught (as I think that telling the employer/grad school that someone is in the top 5% is different from the top 25, 30, or even 50% of students I have ever taught), and try to tailor a couple sentences toward a specific job/grad school application
  • In the final paragraph, I recommend/highly recommend the student and urge you to consider interviewing him/her for the position
So, HR peeps...I know you are busy and do not have a lot of time to pore over many letters of recommendation. So, to save the both of us a lot of time (in both reading and writing the letter), what three things should we academicians REALLY include in that letter of recommendation?

2 comments

"ruing the demand"?

Who talks like that?

(said in my best Val Kilmer voice)

by Anonymous on April 6, 2010 at 1:48 PM. #

Once a professor just had me write my own LOR and then he signed it. Guess that's one way to handle things if you're busy.

by Anonymous on June 23, 2010 at 7:13 PM. #

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