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Thread: General letters of recommendation: useful?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    General letters of recommendation: useful?

    I have a few interns finishing up their service later this year, and I was wondering how useful it would be to create a general letter of recommendation for them that they can file away and pull out whenever they need it. Do employers these days accept these, or will they want tailored recommendations sent directly to them.

    Also, if I were to have a senior staff person / political appointee sign the letters, would this be useful, even if they were not directly involved in supervising the interns? I would like to send them into the world with something that might impress future employers. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I give our interns a letter if / when they ask. I find that if they call me in a year the fact that I remember them, and write the letter seems to go well with the future employer.

    I had a boss when I was an intern who to this day still keeps up with my birthday, kids birthdays, etc. I strive to do the same thing. If you can't remember them, just keep a file about each - so when they do ask - you can be honest. I write up my final thoughts on an intern once they are gone, just to keep all my thoughts in one place.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    I'd do it.

    In my files are several glowing recommendations from citizens and business owners who were pleasantly surprised to have found someone who'd help them, spend some time with them (35-hr week, about 20 hours worth of real work), and be pleasant about it. That was at a certain municipality.

    Got others from freelance gigs where the struggling full-timers were delighted by my help. Some of those came as a surprise to me: "you're being terminated today, no offense but the project's done, and here's a letter that makes it look like you personally hung the moon."

    Positions change, stuff happens, and even if you're tightly connected on LinkedIn, your former interns might not be able to find you in the future.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I have written them. Undated, not addressed. The greatest reason is a feel-good for the person leaving--especially if the position was terminated. I have received them from applicants. Always use a follow up call to verify.

    I don't think I have ever gotten one myself.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    My initial reaction is that they are useless for any potential future employer but might make the intern feel appreciated. And maybe there are future employers who might be impressed by them. I would just want to talk to the person who wrote the letter myself - resumes and cover letters with generic letters of reference attached seem strange to me.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I've been using a generic letter of recommendation when sending out applications. I think it really helps. My former boss wrote a really nice one for me and I think it helps set me apart from the others. It's one thing to talk yourself up, but it's another thing to have it confirmed and verified by someone else saying even better things about you. I have an interview tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    I've been using a generic letter of recommendation when sending out applications. I think it really helps. My former boss wrote a really nice one for me and I think it helps set me apart from the others. It's one thing to talk yourself up, but it's another thing to have it confirmed and verified by someone else saying even better things about you. I have an interview tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.
    Good luck IP!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  8. #8
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    As somebody who occasionally sits on the other side of the table during the interview/hiring process, I find the letters useful especially at the entry level positions, even if they are generic.

    It's always nice when somebody arrives for an interview with fresh copies of their resume and hopefully a few writing samples. The few that actually show up with a letter of recommendation already prepared stand out even that much more. Sure, we still may have to follow up with the original writer of the letter, but at least we know the writer thought enough of them to actually write it (or fill in the blanks on a template, print it, and sign it).

    I like seeing the dates on them too because it lets me know that the letter was put together relatively recently because if an applicant arrived with a letter from an internship that they had 4 years ago or something, that wouldn't carry nearly as much weight IMO. And when we call references, we generally verify the dates of employment anyway.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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