Letter of recommendation, just like the SOP, should tell the story about you. It should be unique and exclusive.
For some universities, you just need to mention your recommender’s email address in the application form. Later, your recommender will get an email which contains a form/link to a questionnaire/few direct questions which need to be addressed by him/her.
In most cases (when the recommender don’t know you well enough or if they don’t have enough time to write it for you), the recommender will ask you to send a draft LOR so that they don’t have to write the whole recommendation letter.
Before You Start
Check your university course requirements to see if they have asked your LOR to be in any specific format (many times they upload a pdf file which needs to be filled by your recommender e.g. TUM LOR).
Note down the limit for LOR length e.g. 200 words, 1 page etc.
Check how many LORs are requested. Also, note down who should be the recommender (e.g. your Professor, Project manager). Most of the Technical Universities only accept recommendations from your college Professor.
for your recommender
Your CV (if necessary)
Your grade report (if necessary)
A draft LOR (if necessary)
Step by step guide
Think of 2-3 people who can give you a good recommendation. That means (i) You have attended their lecture or worked with them in the past (ii) they know at a personal level (not necessarily, e.g. college dean) (iii) They are in a respectable position in the organization.
Write to them politely asking if they can write a positive letter of recommendation for you. You may also send a copy of your transcript etc. reminding them of your good performance in their classes.
Take an appointment with your recommender and ask if they need any additional information in writing the recommendation letter. You can also explain them things like why are you interested in applying for a particular course, to a particular university etc.
Think from your recommender’s perspective. Let the draft be in the appreciative tone but do not exceed the boundary on any occasion.
There should be a mention of how long and in what capacity the recommender knows the student.
Include some statistics in LOR. e.g. The student was one among top 10% of his/her class. This is an important piece of information for admission committee.
If you have to prepare multiple drafts for different recommenders, make sure that you entirely change the content with minimal overlap.
Lastly, remember that you can embellish the truth in any way you like, but don’t write false/untrue statements. This is disrespectful to your recommender and by doing this, you might even offend them.
Once your recommender hands you the final LOR, make sure that it is stamped, signed and sealed (if necessary). Thank them for the recommendation and ask them if it is okay to use their email address for online recommendations.
Note down your recommender’s personal email address.
Keep in mind the type of university you are applying for before sending the LORs. For example, LORs from your college professor is more valued in TUs since they are research oriented. Similarly, LOR from your manager will be valued more in a Fachhochschulen (FH) since they are more practice oriented.
In general, the LORs from your work or studies carried out in recent years carry a higher value.
Your LOR should be written on your university’s letterhead. It should be attested by the respective department and signed by your recommender.
Frequently Asked Questions
Recommendation letter is a University requirement to see how people would like to talk about you. Some truth about you will be shown by a recommendation letter which can not be derived by your GPA and other academic proofs. Recommendation letter is an important document that will describe you in the right light before the selection panel. Thousands of students, every year, apply for German Universities and to whom to give a admission will be the a difficult choice for the admission committee. In such situations, an excellent LOR can bring you the success.
A recommendation letter should be specific in describing you. Your recommendation letter should stand unique and should stand out from thousands of letters that were received by the admission committee. An excellent recommendation letter will bring you upper hand over the rest of the competitors.
It is recommended that your recommendation letter should be written by a person who knows you better for long a time. That doesn’t imply that you should go to your school teachers and ask them to write the letter. Better ask someone influential such as your mentors, professors or if you are working, ask your employer to write recommendation letter. And very important thing is check your recommender is equally ready to write about you. In case, if you feel that he is writing simply for formalities, find someone else. Because we would not want him to end up writing a letter which is ordinary.
In case your recommender is professor then don’t ask a professor in whose class you always scored the highest marks. Ask a professor in whose class initially you scored less and later on you scored well. Because this person can bring out your abilities in the letter very well. Provide a few extra curricular activities and volunteer initiatives that you have undertaken and ask your recommender to add these.
The formats of recommendation letter as follows
1. Typically it should fit in one A4 size paper (including the letterhead)
2. Recommendation letter should have letterhead
3. Adjectives such as incredible, remarkable, extraordinary, amazing etc shouldn’t be overused in the LOR.
Your LOR can be submitted as a hardcopy in a sealed envelope.
For some universities (E.g. Uni Saarland), a scanned copy must be uploaded directly by your recommender.
Show them the followings
1. Explain the uploading process
2. Tell them to upload LOR directly