2+ Year Member
Jun 24, 2015
Hi all,

So Wake Forest "strongly recommends" that applicants have a letter from their supervisor at their current place of employment, should they be employed. On the phone, I was told that the letter from the supervisor at my previous job was not ideal. So after asking my boss, she told me she was going to be very busy this month, but would be willing to submit a letter if I did most of the writing.

My questions are:
1) Is this ethical?
2) Do I need to mark this as a non-confidential letter? She'll be editing the final product, to insert some of her own information and some quotes from my feedback forms, so technically I will not have read the letter that has been submitted. But, well, I wrote most of it...


Bronze Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2011
Medical Student
Sorry you're in this situation. I would be cautious, here. If she asked you to do this, then I get the impression that she doesn't understand her roll as a letter writer and how a letter fits into your application. That, or perhaps she's particularly apathetic, which is a big red flag for someone whose job it is to make you look good.

No sure what others are going to suggest, but I'd start with very carefully and patiently helping her understand why it's important that she write the letter.

If it helps, offer to provide a rubric of points she can hit on, so all she needs to do is meet your list. That way, she can spend less time working on it and you can have more input and help ensure that she does a good job so far as speaking to what you need emphasized. You get more peace of mind and you dot have to lie about never seeing it.


2+ Year Member
Sep 25, 2015
Medical Student
This is pretty common. The letter's still considered confidential, as long as you waive your right to see the final letter that'll be submitted.


2+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2015
Medical Student
Dude -

Chill out, it is fine.

This happens all the time. You write a letter to give a general idea of what you've done, they edit it and polish your work. They end up scrapping most of it since you suck at writing - it is all good. What you are doing is showing them that you are willing to do the work, the reason you were hired in the first place.


*breathes in* boi
2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2016
Medical Student
Super common in the military. They aren't going to be intimately familiar with you, and prewriting a letter for them gives them something to go off. In many cases, they do not simply sign what you've written, but use it as a template. Think of it as giving them a detailed resume.


Only 389 Days Until Next Presidential Election
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jul 26, 2009
The Big Bad Apple
1) the confidentiality is unidirectional. You can demand to see it but your boss is perfectly free to give you a copy
2) writing the letter can raise an ethical concern but if your boss is reading and then signing it, he/she has agreed the content reflects his/her views
3) use the guidelines that @gyngyn linked to
4) as a boss said to me when I was writing my rec letter from him (in his New Zealand accent); "Make it good but dont make it like we are in love"