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Sample Immigration Reference Letter
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How do you obtain a reference letter
First, do a good job. No one owes you a reference letter and your supervisor may turn you down if they
feel your work has been less than satisfactory. Avoid asking for a reference letter during a peak period,
such as in the middle of marking mid-terms or preparing payroll, since a letter written on the fly may be
inadequate. Appreciate their honesty if your supervisor or professor declines your request since a
mediocre or poor reference letter may be harmful to your candidacy.
Indicate what you are using the letter for and who you are giving the letter to because this improves the
focus of the letter. Offer your referees a copy of your up-to-date resume/c.v. and a brief description of the
position or types of positions that you are applying for. Your referees can write specifically about your
skills in relation to the position(s). Your referees will also need time to write a good letter, so give them at
least two to three weeks to prepare the letter.
Your referees also need to know:
The name of the person they are addressing the letter to. If you are using the letter for your portfolio,
it is acceptable to address the letter “Dear Sir or Madam”.
The date the letter is needed and whether you will pick the letter up or the address to which the letter
should be sent.
How to contact you if they have questions or to tell you that the letter is ready for pick-up, or if the
letter has been sent.
Number of copies you require. If you get a great letter for one application, why not ask if you can get
additional copies for future use
Additional considerations
Detailed, targeted reference letters are much more effective than general reference letters.
When you ask someone for a written reference, ask for permission to use them as a verbal reference as
well. Each time you supply their name as a reference, you should, as a courtesy, contact them to tell
them that someone may be in touch with them. It is not very helpful to your application if your referee
responds with “Who are you talking about” when called for a reference.
Three references for each application are usually sufficient unless you are asked to supply more. If
asked to supply a reference letter when applying, it is acceptable to submit a photocopy. Bring the
originals to the interview but always keep them in your possession. It is hard to replace good reference
letters, especially if you are no longer in personal contact with the referee.
Thank everyone who provides you with a reference letter. A good letter will have taken several hours
to complete so they deserve your appreciation and/or an update on the results of the competition.
Reference letters get old. As you progress in your career, you should continue to acquire references
who can talk about your work, personal traits and skills. You should also maintain your contacts so
you can ask them for updated material if necessary.
This booklet includes several different samples of reference letters for different situations. These letters
are meant only as suggestions. Do not copy any of the letters and provide them as a reference
letter for a referee to sign. Some applicants have copied templates, sometimes word for word, merely
changing the name and position of the person on the template to suit the person who offered to write a
reference. With the name changed to suit referees, different applicants have supplied the same letter, to
the same competition. Sounds like an urban legend No, human resource professionals have told CaPS
that this has happened in the past. It is especially tragic when the applicant has cited his/her “originality”,
“creativity” and “integrity” on the resume. Get letters based on your own experience.
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