I am so sorry that it has been so long between posts. I have received an average of 15 emails a day for the past week asking questions about recruitment. In addition, my mailbox has been full of rec packets for days now. So yep…I’ve been busy…really, really busy! Today I made it a top priority to get this post written. Since almost every email I have received has had questions about recommendations so this post is a review tutorial on recommendations.
First of all….PNMs do not write or send recommendations. Recommendations are written and sent by alumnae who are in good standing with their sorority. The alum will get onto her sorority’s national website, download and print the recommendation form. Some sororities now file recommendations electronically as well and if that’s the case then the alum will follow the directions provided. If you have an alum who is writing a recommendation for the first time I suggest she call her sorority’s national office so that they can walk her through the process. In many cases the recommendation form requires the alum to log in using a password that the alum created.
Sometimes you will hear recommendations referred to a “Letters of Recommendation” or LORS. Recommendations are not letters. They are forms that ask for specific information about a PNM. Some rec forms will have an area where the alum is asked to write about different character traits. In some cases this part of the recommendation may take on a “letter” feel, but “Letters of Recommendation” are the same as RIF’s (Recruitment Information Forms or Rush Information Forms).
Since recommendations ask for very specific information about a PNM it is important that her resume be complete and contain all of the information the rec writer will need to accurately and completely fill out her recommendation. This is why I think that the format of a resume is so important. For those of you who have reached out to me to look at their resumes this is why I ask you to rework them into the format below
Header with name , address, email, phone number(s). This year it seems to have begun to be popular to put your monogrammed initials at the top as well. I actually like this a lot!
Education to include : high school name, address and town located (some girls go to high school in a different town), GPA (xyz/4.0) ACT/SAT scores, class rank, list any AP or Dual Enrollment classes.
Personal Information to include: birthdate; college/university attending, class entering; father’s name, college attended, degree earned, current occupation; mother’s name, college attended, degree earned, current occupation.
Greek Affiliations to include: list any family or extended family member that has held membership in a sorority or fraternity. You don’t have to refer to them by name but can just list them as mother, father, aunt ect. List the person, the greek organization, the chapter name, college campus and date of initiation.
Honors and Awards to include: any and all scholarships. faculty appointed awards or positions, leadership positions like sports captains, any voted upon position, any sports awards, academic awards, philanthropy awards. Make sure that you put either the years (2009, 2010 ect) you received the honors and awards or the grade (9, 10, 11, 12) for each item listed.
Activities to include: any and all activities you have participated in both in and out of school. you can separate headings for school and extra-curricular but you don’t have to. As with Honors and Awards make sure that you either list the years participated or the grades for each item listed. Make sure you include things like clubs, sports teams, club teams ect.
Philanthropy/Volunteer to include: any type of philanthropy experience. This is the one area where girls tend to not put all they can. As you are listing here think of the different clubs you have been involved in. Many will have a philanthropy component. If you were a member of National Honor Society there will be philanthropy experiences. In the case of groups like National Charity League go ahead and list hours of participation as well. Actually you may do this for any of your philanthropy items you list. As with Activities make sure that you add either the year(s) or grade(s) that you participated.
Hobbies and Interests to include: what do you like to do in your spare time? There is a section on the rec form that asks what a PNM would like to talk about during recruitment. This section helps the rec writer to make conversation suggestions. This is especially helpful if the woman who is writing your rec doesn’t know you very well.
Work Experience to include: the jobs you have held or currently hold.
You do not need to supply references.
As you can tell a sorority resume is different from a work resume. Many high school girls put together a resume their junior or senior year for one class or another. chances are this resume will look more like a job resume. I get LOTS of these. They are a good starting place but that’s it. A sorority resume is more of a social resume. It is intended to paint a picture on paper of the “active, social” you.
One of the things I’ve noticed from the many, many resumes that have arrived at my house is that girls want to explain each item. While I understand why you want to do this you really don’t need to. If the woman who is writing your rec has questions she will call you. The sorority women who are reviewing your resume and rec should be from the general area of the United States that you are. Hopefully they will be familiar with the clubs and groups you have mentioned. Remember that in many cases sororities receive thousands of rec and resumes each recruitment season. For example at Alabama is 2000 young women register for recruitment and each one has 2 recs/resumes per house that’s 4000 recs and resumes that one sorority has to review!!!! So if you REALLY feel that you need to explain something then keep it short and to the point :).
There are exceptions to this. If you have founded your own philanthropy or charity then by all means give a brief description of why you were moved to do this. Another exception would be if you are involved in a particular charity or philanthropy because you have been directly impacted by the illness of a family member ect. Go ahead and put a short explanation.
When putting together your rec packet that you are going to give to the woman who is writing your rec include the following: a copy of your resume (printed on resume paper…if you want to put it on a colored paper with a border make sure it is simple and classy), 2 pictures of yourself (one head shot and one full body shot…make sure that you put your name, high school and home town on the back of each picture. I suggest printing stickers with the information on them.), you may include a copy of your unofficial transcript if you would like (some women will ask for this), a letter telling a little bit about you (this should include why you chose the college you did, what your intended major is and why, thank the rec writer and include an instructions for the rec), an addressed and stamped large envelope that everything can be mailed in and a hand written thank you note. Some girls like to include a postcard or note card and stamped envelope for the alum to mail to them indicating the rec has been mailed.
It goes without saying but I will reiterate again that if you are planning on going through recruitment and anywhere on the schools panhellenic website the word recommendation is written take it as sign that YOU NEED RECS!!!!!!!!! I promise you they can’t hurt you, they can only help. Remember in the case of competitive recruitment schools there are usually large numbers that go through recruitment. Recommendations serve as an introduction of a PNM. Sororities go through and choose those PNMs who they feel would be the best fit for their sisterhood and then make a point of meeting them, talking with them and getting to know them in person. They want to see if they are as amazing in real life as on paper. If you are an amazing girl but have no rec how will they know? If you are lucky your conversations on the first days might get you noticed but those are odds I wouldn’t want to try. Go the extra mile…get the recs you need!!!
A quick note about Letters of Support (LOS). These are letters that are written by an alum in support of a PNM. They are not a form. The letter discusses the PNM’s rec personality and character traits and how they would make her a good candidate for membership. These can be handwritten or typed. In some cases they are written by a different woman than the one who writes the recommendation. Sometimes they are sent independently of the rec and other times they are sent in the rec package that the rec writer sends. These letters are an added bonus for the PNM. I have seen cases where a LOS made the difference in whether a PNM received a bid or not. At some school they carry a lot of weight (the Texas schools, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Georgia to name a few ). If you are going through recruitment at Alabama you will be told that the chapters do not accept LOS. That is true IF they are sent independently of the rec. IF the LOS is attached to the rec then the sororities most certainly DO look at them!
So that’s a little review tutorial about recs. I hope that helped with some of your questions and concerns. If you have more you know where to find me :).