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Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation


Life pro tip: Write your own letter of recommendation at the end of a work relationship.

It sounds backward. Shouldn’t your boss write your appraisal?

I argue that you should do the grunt work of writing it. Your boss should only sign it, and perhaps embellish it.

Put yourself in the shoes of your boss when you ask about the document. The boss has a gazillion things to do, and many people to follow up on. The boss does not know from the top of the head all the details around your engagement for the company - but you know. For your boss it would take significant time to gather all the facts. E.g. asking HR to dig up the relevant dates and facts. Trying to remember your accomplishments and responsibilities.

The last time I resigned from a job (2010), I wrote my own work certificate. It contained a paragraph with the personal info, the dates and roles, and a paragraph about the responsibilities and a few milestones I had contributed to. Then I sent it off to my boss. He happily added a the essence to the letter of recommendation - a paragraph about his assessment of my work, how I lived up to the company values, and my personal characteristics.

It took me probably less than 10 minutes to write the introductory paragraphs, but I imagine it saved my boss much more time. And it made it easy for him add the final paragraph. A win-win. I received a good and correct letter of recommendation, and my boss didn’t have to spend a lot of time on it.