I am a senior engineer at a large well known US company, and oversaw an intern this past summer for a comp sci related internship (programming focused). He did a great job, and I was very happy with his work. Note: He’ll be going into his junior year this fall.

He asked for a letter of recommendation, and I said I’d be happy to write an endorsement on LinkedIn, but it seems he’s also hoping for a generic letter formatted recommendation. Is it normal to do these without a specific purpose in mind (eg future internship, post college career, academia)?


3 Answers 3


I think a LinkedIn endorsement would suffice. You can tell him that this is pretty much a very common practice in many industries nowadays.

You can even give him your work email and work phone number in case he needs to put your name and contact info on his resume as a source of reference.

This way, in the future, other companies, who see that you are one of his references, may contact you when he applies for jobs elsewhere.

Generally, letters of recommendation are required when people apply to graduate schools or PhD programs. But, these letters are written by university professors or researchers (and not written by hiring managers in the private sector) for this particular purpose. These letters should have a specific goal of helping students to get into those schools and programs.

On the other hand, in the private sector, not many hiring managers would want to see a "generic letter of recommendation". Instead, it may be helpful to have some good sources of references with contact info on the resumes of job applicants.

  • 2
    I don't think is wise at all to put contact information of references on your resume. Aug 15, 2022 at 3:32

Let me understand this...

You are willing to write a generic letter on LinkedIn

But not a generic letter in another form.

How about do both. Write the the letter and give them the PDF, then take the same words and add them via LinkedIn.

It allows the intern to use the LinkedIn reference when that is appropriate, and the PDF when that is appropriate.

Then make sure that when they need to be able to find you in the next year or two when a potential employer wants to talk to their references that you can be found.

  • I have no real issue writing a general letter of recommendation. I just personally haven’t ever had an opportunity where I would have wanted/needed one for myself, so was a little confused by the ask and wondering if it’s common. Aug 15, 2022 at 14:59
  • @BobIsNotMyName - Just write a "To Whom It May Concern" letter on the appropriate letterhead. You are basically doing the same thing by doing it on LinkedIn. Of course I am sort of old school, and think LinkedIn is overrated.
    – Donald
    Aug 15, 2022 at 19:57

General purpose letters of recommendation are common.

not many hiring managers would want to see a "generic letter of recommendation"

I heavily dispute this. Hiring managers are very interested in the specific strengths and (implied) weaknesses of employees that previous supervisors can outline.

Instead, it may be helpful to have some good sources of references with contact info on the resumes of job applicants.

I would highly recommend against including the contact information of your verbal references on your resume.

If I were a supervisor, I'd be more than willing to write a written reference for an intern, but I'd be unwilling to be a verbal reference for someone that is still a few years off needing it.

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