“Should I Write My Own Recommendation Letter?”
Maybe your recommender of choice is just too busy right now, or maybe you’re not so confident in their ability to get it done, or to do it well. Besides, you know how your solid your work has been, you know your own strengths, you basically know what they’d say…can’t you just crank that letter out for them?
Don’t do it. Writing your own recommendation letter is a
The best reason we can give you is that if the adcom suspects you wrote your own letter (and it’s much easier to tell than you might think), then you’ve just given them every reason to ding you, regardless of how strong the rest of your application is. You’re taking a huge risk here: a self-written recommendation will immediately undermine what might otherwise be a great application, and can turn an admittance into a rejection faster than Elon Musk can shoot off an offensive tweet.
Even if you manage to avoid suspicion, which, we’ll say again is harder than you might think, there’s a reason someone else is meant to write a recommendation for you. An outside perspective on you, your qualities and your work adds immense value to your application. You can’t have the kind of insight and perspective that a manager, colleague, or mentor might have on your strengths and potential, so if you write your own letter you miss out on that addition to your application, and you’re only cheating yourself.
Have you ever seen a video of yourself or listened to a
Simply put, you will not be able to write the kind of recommendation
So, what do you do if you meet with resistance when you ask
Recommended Reading: How to Choose a Recommender That Strikes the Right Balance
First of all, if you meet resistance, negotiate! If they
Before you fall back to self-writing though, think carefully
If you absolutely cannot convince your recommender of choice
1. Change up your tone
If you were impersonating someone else on the phone, you probably wouldn’t use your own voice, and nor should you in this letter. The adcom will have ample evidence of your written voice in your essays, and if the recommendation letter you send matches the tone and voice of the essays, well then you’re in trouble, my friend. Put yourself in your recommenders’ head, think about how they speak and express themselves, and try to put that on the page. Don’t go over the top though, or it will sound artificial. The best way to vary your tone is to write a first draft without thinking about it, and go back in and edit the phrasing here and there to change up the voice.
2. Vary the content
In a similar vein, you will want to vary the content you
Again, we can’t emphasize enough just how unwise it is to self-write a recommendation letter: it simply isn’t worth staking your application on if you can possibly avoid it. Even a sub-par letter from your “too busy to help” manager will be better than an obviously self-written letter!
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That’ll get you started. Still have questions? Reach out, and let’s gab.
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