Paul Kei Matsuda

Recommendation Letter Revisited

I've made a small change to the list of documents a job candidate might consider providing to their would-be recommendation letter writers. Specifically, I've added the following:

  • A brief sketch of when and how you met the writer of the recommendation letter, what courses you have taken with that person, and any other special projects you have worked on with/for that person (if it's not already clear from the CV).
This is important even if you think you have been working closely with that person because memories fade. Maybe I'm beginning to realize this because, as I grow older, my memory is beginning to fail me (sigh). But even when I have--or think I have--a vivid recollection of the first encounter, sometimes it turns out not to be the real first encounter. Cognition is a funny thing.

The last thing you want on the job market is a recommendation letter that indicates that the person doesn't really know you.

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Last update: January 6, 2008