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Personal Statement and Letter of recommendation and References

  1. Sep 22, 2014 #1
    I find that people from North America tend to require them for school or job admission but I find them pretty useless myself.

    1. Personal statement: will probably work like a job application's cover letter. Perhaps they want to read the applicant's writing skill; other than that I don't have a clue then.
    2. Letter of recommendation: is awesome but really not nice since it doesn't take into account any slightest chance the applicant might already "fix" himself for better & better after leaving the previous employer. We always love to reach professionalism and perfectionism.
    3. References: are similar to the second but far worse because it would act like a criminal record. There will be no second chance for life to begin or regrow.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2014 #2


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    What are the alternatives?
  4. Sep 23, 2014 #3
    Backdoor entry is another plausible option. :DD
  5. Sep 23, 2014 #4
    What's the difference between letters of recommendation and references?

    A reference is really useful since it lets a person already established in the field judge the applicant.

    The statement of purpose can also be really useful, since it allows you the opportunity to highlight how you have prepared yourself apart from what is shown on your transcripts, and how that leads up to your proposed study/research.

    [European schools don't really ask for a statement of purpose, but maybe that is balanced by an interview or even personal contact sometimes (at least talking about grad school applications here).]
  6. Sep 23, 2014 #5
    I used to apply for jobs in a local embassy and they always asked me to mention previous companies' supervisors' contact details. I always fought hard against most of them before I left, how could I introduce them to the embassy ? But now that I have become charmer and more easy-going, but they still require the same thing. Their requirements never get changed to offer people like me a second chance. It was all about job fights and they now clearly support them. Why not me ?
  7. Sep 24, 2014 #6


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    The first thing you get out of requiring multiple reference letters is a filter for serious applicants.

    If you're faced with screening through a lot of potential applicants (some graduate departments can face hundreds for only a handful of positions, and the same is true for hiring in many fields), you probably don't want to waste too much time on people who (a) can't be bothered to collect multiple relevant references, or (b) simply can't collect relevant references.

    As for the issue of references from previous positions - they can be highly valuable as flags for potential problem candidates. As an employer, you want to know if the people you're considering for a position have histories of completing assigned tasks, or of slacking off. Or have they had conflicts with other employees? Do they take initiative in a constructive way? Do they take criticism in a constructive way? Will they fit in well with the team you already have? As Russ's question implies, there aren't many alternatives for figuring these kinds of questions out.

    In most cases for job applications, they'll only care about going back five years or so. So unprofessional behavior when you're young is not likely to haunt you forever. In cases like an embassy postion, or something that requires security clearance - yes they'll go back about as far as they feel they need to, because often in such situations there's more at stake than just whether or not you're going to be the best employee for the position. In cases of security clearance they want to know if you'll be susceptable to bribes, or influences from groups that have conflicting interests with your potential employer.

    Finally, as for statements of purpose, now that I've seen a few from the other side of the fence it's easy to see the value in them. The people who've put a lot of effort into researching the position or the program will have intelligent, non-generic things to say in such a document and these are usually the people you want work for or with you over ones who are simply casting about.
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