I've been told to write my own letter of recommendation

And how the hell should I do it???

I’m leaving my current work tomorrow and asked my boss for a letter of recommendation. He then “suggested” that I write it and he’d just sign it, which sounded really nifty.

But then I realized that I’ve never written one. And this is my first “real” job, so I’ve never gotten a proper* one before. What should I put there? How brilliant should I make myself? What’s proper etiquette? Do I write down my responsibilities (which are vague at most), what I’ve accomplished (the figures in ISK sure don’t impress anyone anywhere else but here) or what?

So I call to you dear Dopers for help!
*I have a few somewhere, in some box, at my parents place, which is way off, from old part-time and summer jobs.

In letters of recommendation that I’ve done, I’ve briefly described how I know the person and what responsibilities the person has had while working with me. I spend a little more time stating why this person is a good worker. That’s really the part I focus on because it has always been more applicable to the job being applied for. I round it off with a nice little, “I would recommend so-and-so for such-and-such job without any hesitations. Please feel free to contact me if you would like farther information about so-and-so.” My letters are usually brief, maybe three short paragraphs, with contact information included with the signature. I think I’ve only been called once.

I think it’s extremely lazy and unprofessional of your boss to ask you to do that.

I would put in the bits that you are really known for: always on time, efficiency, pleasant to everyone.

Whatever it is that is your foundation of who you are ( besides being a God of Sex and Stuff.)

That’s the way things usually are done here, but I do agree.

And MissMossie. Thanks for the tips!

And yet, oh so common.

Think about how your boss knows you, and what sort of interactions you have had.

Also, if you’re anything like me, you might feel a bit awkward lavishing praise on yourself. While you don’t want to say things like “Worm can cure cancer with his mind”, you definitely NEED to flaunt yourself. I wrote a letter of rec for myself that my boss thought could have tooted my own horn more. So long as you are factual, pick the absolute best light to put yourself in.

I don’t think so. Every professor or boss I’ve had has done it this way. It’s a way of saying, “I have full faith in you, and you know the conditions of the position you’re after better than I, and I’m really busy. Whatever you want to be known about you, I’ll sign off on it.”

It seems awkward at first, but once you’ve done it a few times, it’s pretty easy and formulaic. MissMossie says it pretty well.

I agree what a crappy manager.

It’s like those idiots who ask you to write your own review first. That is a lazy way out.

Go to the library and check out a book or look up online sources for writing such letters and find one you like

Copy and Paste, then tweak the letter so it’s original. Make sure you don’t copy and paste it exact as your next employer could Google it and you don’t want it coming up in a Google search

The best manager I’ve ever had asked me to write my own. I viewed it as a compliment because he acknowledged that I was the better writer and gave me carte blanche to pimp myself as much as I dared.

After nailing down your responsibilities and personal qualities, make sure to include a sweeping endorsement of how you (the boss) could easily imagine you (the you) benefiting any company that would hire you.

That kind of thing was done all the time for letters of recommendations from other agencies for grant proposals and in local politics. In the former case it was necessary to make sure that the things discussed in the grant proposals are covered and to save the other agency time, and in the latter case I just hated it. I wanted to bite the hand off anyone that handed me some letter to sign as though I couldn’t come up with my own verbiage if I was inclined to write one in the first place.

I’d count yourself lucky and start making a list of your strong points that you want to make sure to include.

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept my recommendation of WormTheRed as a fine employee and a good citizen. He is a fine upstanding young man who would be an asset to any organization in need of large percussively talented individuals.

While you may have heard about some of his legal challenges on the evening news, that is not the whole picture. WormTheRed was really not going quite the 70 MPH that was quoted when he ran over his parents with that monster truck. Besides, they knew he didn’t like getting clothes for Christmas so what could they expect? And to be fair, he did surrender after only a 30 mile chase, and I understand that most of those guys from the SWAT team will recover.

In summary, please hire WormTheRed so I can have my cat back.


"To Whom It May Concern,

WormTheRed is without question the finest human being our business has ever had the privilege of employing. His wisdom and intelligence are unparalleled in our industry. He is insightful, visionary, hard-working, and smells good.

Those who know WormTheRed love him. And those who do not know him love him from afar. If he has a failing, it is that he is often too modest to recognize his greatness.

I sincerely wish WormThe Red all the best in his future, even though his departure from our firm almost certainly dooms us to swift and inexorable failure and bankruptcy. I am sure that his addition to your staff will do nothing but improve your profitability and customer satisfaction beyond your wildest dreams.


Mr Bossman"

Just a suggestion (with a little Star Trek TNG homage mixed in) . :smiley:

Thanks for all the advice!

Well… I ended up with this:

             Jan. 29, 2009

To Whom it May Concern:

WormTheRed has worked for me as a Purchaser for the past 2.5 years. His responsibilities have included contracts negotiations, placing orders, finding new suppliers, teaching salesmen and general statistics.

During his time here he has handled his responsibilities in an exemplary manner, had a very good repertoire with his suppliers and has repeatedly managed to negotiate better terms; in regards to price, quantities and delivery.

Worm is highly respected by his co-workers for his willingness to help anyone anytime he can. He will always go the extra mile when called upon and does his best to foresee future problems. He is well organized, efficient, diligent in his paperwork, easily reachable and gets along with everyone.

Worm has done an excellent job and I would highly recommend him for any position in your company.


Director of the Universe

Which I got him to sign and stamp. So, anyone interested in hiring :smiley:

You are enclosing a picture of your penis, aren’t you? :cool:

Well of course :smiley:

I need to show everyone how I can stand alert upon request.

Rapport, not repertoire.

Other than that (and no penis references), great, and good luck on the job search.

Not hiring any worms at the moment, but we will keep your assume on file.


If he hasn’t already signed it, in addition to “rapport/repertoire,” you’ve also got an unnecessary stray semicolon between “better terms” and “in regards” – no punctuation needed there.

Here endeth the nitpick. Good letter; good luck in your job hunt. :slight_smile:

He has signed it, but will gladly do so again tomorrow.

Thanks for pointing out the mistakes! Most appreciated!

The letter is fine, but another helpful way to do this is to pull out your performance appraisals for the past couple of years and paraphrase some highlights. My current position is in part due to the masterful application of that technique, I’m pretty sure.

I’m actually a big believer in giving prep material to anyone you want to write a recommendation for you. If they want to say something different, they will.

My what? I’ve never done a performance appraisal here. I’ve had a few beers on Friday afternoon and chatted with the boss on how things are and so on, but never anything formal.

(and salary negotiations went in the way of “hey, give me a pay bump”).
Yes. I’m working (until the end of today, that is) for one of the largest corporations in Iceland.