Many of you are hopefully winding down on the recommendation process.  Most major, competitive schools require them to be in by the beginning of July (Yikes!!!! that’s a month away) or the middle of July at the latest.  Truth is, if you have them there the week before recruitment begins it will be okay but I would STRONGLY suggest you get going and get them in!

Remember as the recommendations come in over the summer, the sorority women are picking them up from the mailbox, eagerly opening them to see what wonderful PNM has sent the rec and then ranking and scoring them.  They are then filed and entered into the computer in anticipation of “The big week”.  First impressions are everything ladies…make this one count!

A couple of things about recommendations.  The person who writes your rec can make the difference between “good” recommendation and a “great” recommendation.  If you have the option, ALWAYS go first with the person who knows you the best.  Since I always say get 2 recs per house, you can go with the person who knows you for the first one and then the random writer for the second.  The person who knows you will write the better rec simply because they “KNOW” you.  They will have emotion and be invested in the process. As someone who has written hundreds of recommendations and read even more, you can tell if the writer knows the PNM.  The recommendation will ooze with sincerity and emotion.  These recs often cause us to stand up and take notice.

So what if you don’t know the person who is writing your recommendation?  How do you get that “sincerity” factor into that rec?  It’s my opinion that YOU have to appear to be “sincere” when approaching the unknown rec writer.  Be out going and friendly but also be accommodating. Remember this person is doing YOU a favor.  They are taking time out of their schedule to talk with you, perhaps meet with you and then actually sit and write the recommendation.  I know I rant over and over again but it is a time consuming process!!!

This is not a cattle call.  DO NOT, under any circumstances, ask an alum who knows you personally to write a rec by email.  Make the phone call.  Be personable and sincere.  An email comes off as impersonal and well…like you just want to get it done and so “Yawn” you are going to ask, (in some cases I think “expect” ) this acquaintance, to write you the rec.

I know it sounds harsh and IF you really “KNOW” the person and you correspond by email regularly then I think it’s ok but manners tell us to reach out in person to ask this favor, pick up the phone, make the call…you and your recommendation will be better for it :).

The phone call request also goes for friends of friends.  We operate in such an email (and impersonal) society.  I receive lots of emails from friends asking if I will write recommendations for friends of friends. I gladly do (well actually I have to see the resume and then talk personally with the girl and then I do ).  I am always impressed when the PNM picks up the phone, and even though she doesn’t know me, she calls me “personally” to inquire whether I would write her a recommendation.  That girl is going to get a better rec from me than a girl who just sends an impersonal email.

A while ago I blogged on how a young woman had placed all of my personal information on a Facebook page for recruitment at a large SEC competitive rush school.  I got 100’s of emails from girls wanting me to write them a rec.  Being polite and one to give the benefit of the doubt, I plowed through each and everyone of those, emailing the girl back, telling her that I would need a copy of her resume, and a pic.  In addition I requested that each girl set up a time to “chat”.  Out of all of those emails I had less than 10 girls who did what I requested!!!!  Less than 10 young women who were invested in the process!!!  The rest were just looking for an “easy” rec…a filler so to speak.  I am afraid these young women might be in for an “eye opening” experience once August rolls around!

I will also share that of the 10 girls who ultimately sent me their resumes, 5 had serious resume issues.  When I approached them about fixing the problem only 3 were open to my suggestions.  Ladies..if you have an alum who is willing to help me ..”TAKE THE ADVICE!!!!”

Another quick piece of advice.  If you are emailing alums, who you don’t know, for a recommendation do not cc other alums.  It makes it look like you are sending out a form letter and are not invested in the process.  Some things are worth working for and this is one of those things.  For many of you the process can be slow, frustrating and time consuming but the prize at the end is WONDERFUL!!!! It is worth working for.

Alums are very put off by young women who feel that it is their privilege to have a recommendation written for them.  I am pretty easy to work with but I know women who are on another whole plane when it come to rec writing.  They take the process and it’s implications VERY SERIOUSLY!!!!

So a word to the wise before asking for recommendations put yourself in the shoes of the person writing the rec.  How would YOU like to be approached?  How would you like to be treated?  I think you know the answer.  Be polite and use your manners.  This is just not crossing off a name form a list but your future.