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Submitted by sholden on


One of my key recruiting tools I have at my disposal is hiring university students to work part-time on my projects. This has worked out great in 'test driving' some very talented people who have now gone on to great positions within the government and out into industry.

Because of this, I get asked to write a good number of reference letters. I don't actually have a problem writing the letters, but I have been getting the sense that many of the requesters actually want a review copy of the reference letter even before I send it out. And I've even been getting more and more requests for me to write generic ones that they could use anywhere they submit for a position.

My policy has been that if the student gives me the POC that I will send the reference letter directly to the POC (customized specifically for them), and I'll give a copy after I've sent the reference to the student if I'm asked.

Does my policy seem reasonable? Am I missing or doing something that I shouldn't?



Mark's picture
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I support and adhere to your approach myself. One of my primary reasons is that the collection of reference letters is a misguided endeavor upon the part of the requestor. Further, regardless of others' sloppy profligacy, I cannot write an exceptional letter of recommendation without a recipient and opportunity in mind. This of course indicates that I get to define "exceptional", and under these circumstances, that's perhaps not in vogue, but still correct.

Years ago, resumes INCLUDED references. They did so because jobs were primarily offered on the basis of connections relating to family and power and wealth. Over the years, the devolution of class-based distinctions created the (now defunct) line, "references available upon request." To then bombard a company with such is ill-advised.

Rifles, not shotguns.