Like most academics, I often write recommendation letters for students and colleagues, and sometimes ask for them myself. There’s an art to getting a good recommendation letter, much of it nicely summarized by Jodi Glickman Brown on her HBR blog. In short, 1) highlight [the writer's] qualifications, 2) provide a template, and 3) offer a “no questions asked” policy. I’d add a conceptual note: Consider the recommendation letter an additional channel for information, beyond those the letter-reader will already have. Letters that simply repeat information contained in the candidate’s CV, academic transcripts, writing samples, application forms, and the like do not add value Ask yourself what you want the reader to know about you that isn’t otherwise be obvious from the rest of your dossier. The letter is your opportunity to get this information out. But the letter-writer has to know what you have in mind.