I am currently in the process of my immigration application, and I need employment reference letters from all my previous employers.

I worked at a job for 20 months. It's been 5 years since I left. I have contacted to my ex-supervisor and he has agreed to provide me with a reference letter. He also asked me to prepare a draft and to email it to him.

This ref. letter will basically list all my duties and responsibilities in that job. But for immigration purposes, the duties I performed in the job need to match 60-70% of the duties listed under the job classification that I am using for my PR application. While this job matches quite perfectly with the job classification that I am using, I still did have to tailor it a little bit to include certain phrases and technical terms.

How do I tactfully ask my ex-supervisor to approve the reference letter that I have drafted and not to change anything in the main body? Note that I have not written anything that I haven't actually done at the job. But I am not very confident with him since it's been a while and I haven't stayed in touch with him.

Here is what I thought I'd email him:

One important consideration is that the wording of the letter and my duties need to somewhat match the listed job duties of the job classification that I am using for my PR application. I have tailored my duties a bit (with certain phrases and technical terms) so that they are aligned with the requirements.

Unless you find something that you disagree with, I'd prefer if you didn't change any of the three bullet points. And let me know if you have questions or comments - I know it's been a while since that job, but I think I have most of my work from then and I can answer any questions you might have.

I have a feeling that the last two lines - while they reflect what I truly want - sound kind of rude. I want to state this in a positive and polite way.

  • If you have to ask someone for something like that, never do it in writing. Just call. Reading it makes it so much worse ;)
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


First of all, I agree with you about the last paragraphs, they're quite not nice and not needed, I wouldn't write this. That's the starting point of my proposition: I would just present things for what they are, a favor.

And, in your case, as I always do in order to not put pressure on people and offer a way out (by saying "no" or by just not answering), I would use something like that to end your request:

As you can imagine, it's very important for me. I would really appreciate if you could just validate this draft as is.

And you end the email with some pleasantries.

This way, you really and clearly show what you need, but let him say "no" by just not answering.

I've done this way for the past years and succeeded more than not. I believe people like to be treated like adults by being able to make their own choices. It's exactly what I recommend here, because I do this and like to be treated like that too. You don't beat around the bush, you don't insult their cleverness/smartness by hiding your request or sugar-coating it, and you call a dog a dog. He may sign it or not, but making any modification would invalidate this recommandation letter, and you make this statement clear without being rude or putting pressure.

  • 1
    Thanks for ticking up this. Best wishes for the answer you'll get from him. Please let us know if this was useful, if you used it, and if he validated your request.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 13:06

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