In an effort to make this meet the rules of 'The Workplace', I'm looking for generalized advice and will only be providing a high level overview of what's going (which also happens to help with keeping things a little private). If it's still off topic, I apologize in advance!


In the spring of 2015, I began to take on multiple responsibilities that aren't in my job description - because I really enjoy them. My Director said she would work on getting my title/role changed at some point down the road. Fast forward to today: My boss quit, and the Director is leaving in January. As a result, all knowledge of my unique role in the department will be lost (aside from co-workers, but I'm concerned about the 'higher ups'). I asked the director if she would be willing to write a internal reference for me of sorts, to explain to whoever takes her position what my role has become and the efforts being taken to get my title/role changed. She agreed, but asked that I draft the letter, so that she can review and tweak it before signing it.

The Question

While I asked for an 'internal reference letter' - I have no idea what that should look like. It appears the internet doesn't either - all I can find are discussions about letters for promotions, reference letters when applying to a new company, etc. I had a hard enough time getting the hang of cover letters, this is completely uncharted territory and I'm hoping someone may be able to provide guidance. What I have gathered is that a letter for this situation should contain and be laid out as follows:

[Who is the person we are talking about?]
[What was this person doing when they were first hired?]
[What *specific* examples illustrate that their responsibilities changed?]
[Why are these examples useful to the department/company?]
[What actions are being taken that should be continued, in regards to a role/title change?]

The biggest issue I'm running into is that the last part ends the letter off kind of awkwardly:

Therefore, I have been working to make Joe McGuy VP of Everything. Sincerely, Director

On top of that, now that I'm going over everything - I'm wondering if this is even a good idea? Are some of these pieces not okay at all? Is saying I should be promoted a complete faux paus, even though the director told me I would be and then asked me to write this letter? Since it seems there's no good template of an 'internal reference letter', is it okay to just provide what I have written to the director and let her prune it? If this letter is ok to write: how long is too long? (I'm placing my bets on anything longer than 1 page).

Thank you in advance - and again, I apologize if this is off topic. Seems to land squarely between the "maintain employment" (good) and "asking for advice on what to do" (bad) categories.

  • 1
    Sorry, too broad to answer within the confines of the site, and actually a number of questions, voting to close. Dec 30, 2015 at 20:39
  • @TheWanderingDevManager If it's not too broad then it's too localized. I don't know what you guys want. You just want to close everything so it looks like your voting powers are being used.
    – Jack
    Jan 1, 2016 at 4:53
  • @Jack - To quote the OP - "I'm looking for generalized advice", this is a bad fit. Also there are a number of questions asked, making it too broad. If the OP can distill the core question out, you'd get a much better response than one answer (plus 1 deleted). To me going through the template comment by comment isn't right for an answer here, too many questions and too specific to the OP's situation. The knub seems to be around "Is saying I should be promoted a complete faux paus, even though the director told me I would be and then asked me to write this letter", this is doable Jan 1, 2016 at 10:16
  • I think you need to focus on some of the softer skills such as: communication, ability to get along, taking responsibility and getting things done. I wouldn't expect a letter of reference to know any specifics about the open position and how this candidate would fit.
    – user8365
    Jan 5, 2016 at 15:41
  • Somewhat related... my previous supervisor let me write my own yearly reviews and he didn't even bother to read them afterwards... just submitted them up the chain. I would rate myself as the #1 employee on the entire team and how the program would fail without my expert knowledge, etc. Lol.
    – rhoonah
    Jun 28, 2023 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Write it as a reference letter/resume combo. While asking you to write your own letter can be seen as lazy on the director's part, it's also an opportunity for you to shine a light on yourself.

My advice is to be honest and to praise yourself to a moderate degree. Being overly humble will only harm you. Don't worry about being too forward, as long as you don't get too outrageous: she is leaving, and you can believe that she will not sign anything they don't feel comfortable anyway.

Additionally, if you've really done a good job she may be willing to credit you with more than you think, especially as she won't be around to deal with your performance after the fact.

Write something along the lines of:

Hello, Director.

If you are reading this then you now hold the position which I did not very long ago [ ... intro ... ]

I would like to speak to you about Jens Astrup, an employee whom I believe truly stands out. While Jens is officially our [title here], she has, over the years, picked up many more responsibilities which she has performed admirably. As my replacement, I believe you should be aware of her contributions to the team outside of her official job description.

[ ... Go into what you do ... ]

At the time of my writing this, I firmly believe that Jens deserves, and I was pursuing on her behalf, a promotion to a position which more accurately reflects her contribution to this organization. As my successor I felt that you should be aware of the valuable employee you have under your guidance, and am certain that she will make as good an impression on you as she did on me.

Regards, etc.

Anything your boss doesn't like, or wants changed, she will let you know, don't worry.

  • I concur. You can't be humble here. And I would bet that anyone at the "director" level won't spend too much time fine tuning something like this. Dec 30, 2015 at 21:07
  • I would work on the spelling and grammar of the letter more than the author of this quick sketch has, though. This is a content guide only! And do try to get your gender correct, if only to avoid misunderstandings.
    – Móż
    Dec 31, 2015 at 3:59
  • 2
    Psst: Jens is a common Danish male name ;) Dec 31, 2015 at 6:02
  • This almost sounds like a letter of recommendation or reference. Jan 5, 2016 at 16:07

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