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How to Build a Recommendation Database

Whether getting into college or getting a decent job, having a strong list of recommendations to turn to when you are ready to fill out your applications Most organizations typically want three recommendations along with your application. Sometimes, typically in the work world, this means providing a name and a phone number. In the admissions realm, a recommendation is usually a form or letter submitted by your recommender. It is important to have strong recommendation team to turn to because the support the idea that you are a great person to accept.

Value of good recommendations

I work in graduate admissions at a fairly large college. Every day I interact with dozens of student applications vying for one competitive program or another. Often students GPAs are a few decimal points difference from one another, they come from the similar regional colleges, and they get recommendations from the same professors within the same program, the major difference is how the recommendation reads to the application reviewer. If you have a recommendation that simply lists information easily found on your transcript and a generic description of yourself as a student, then this shows that your recommender didn’t get a chance to know you or was less than impressed with your presence. On the other hand, if your recommender recounts specific situations and details accounts of your achievements then your application reviews will believe the glowing words are authentic and real. In a sense a good recommendation draws a better view of what it would be like to have you around by imagining your interactions with others.

It takes effort

Ensuring the delivery

of a good recommendation goes beyond just knowing the right people. It means making sure that the right people accurately represent you and your achievements. Getting this to happen means you have to put in work beyond just asking sweetly. Some ways to make sure your recommenders remember you correctly include working with a recommender on a project or volunteer activity, meeting with your recommender regularly to have active discussions about your life path, or corresponding with your recommender through email about the latest trends in your industry. Maintaining a healthy relationship with your potential recommender builds a solid foundation of experiences and memories for them to draw from when they are getting ready to write your letter or interview over the phone.

It also takes direction

Sometimes you recommenders have the best of intentions when it comes to vying for you, but still it is not enough to help distinguish you from the pack. This is when your subtle, yet direct, consultation can help to boost your chances of getting what you want. This is especially important for job recommendations, but can also play a very important role in admissions, grant proposals, or anything else that requires a verification of your character and ability. In order to perform this social persuasion, what you must do is frame how you ask your recommender to be your recommendation. For example: Let’s say Shari wants to get a job researching the effects of the color orange on food buying behavior of different consumers. When she was in college she worked closely with her professor to do a study on risk taking and color buying behavior of consumers, so she chooses that professor as her recommender. Naturally, Shari could ask for a recommendation to company XYZ, which may or may not hint to what the job she will be doing. The alternative is Shari can write an email asking for her professor to recount the time they did the study together and comment on the 100 hours of research she put in to help win a grant proposal. Being specific in your recommendation can help your recommender remember details that may have escaped them.


When it comes to recommendations having a well written one may or may not help, but having a poorly written one will definitely hurt. Communicating, engaging, and directing your recommenders to ensure that you are portrayed in the most positive light will help future selection committees to understand the authentic you through the eyes of others.

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