I am going on the postdoc market this year (mathematics). I am now looking into who I should ask for a letter of recommendation. I think my advisor will give me a good one, and there is another faculty who I think will give me a good letter.

I am trying to decide who I should ask for a third letter. I have been told that it is a good idea to get someone from a different university to write you a letter if you can. There is one person who I think would write me a letter, and I think it would be alright. There is someone else, however, at my university who I think would write me a very good letter based on comments he has made to me and other faculty about me. I do not know which would be better, and was looking for general advice about how much having a LoR from someone from a different institution was.

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    Does your adviser have any suggestions? When I applied the letter writers were some of my adviser's colleagues who work in the same area. Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 23:22
  • @Notagradstudent It isn't so much that I need advice/help finding an external letter writer, since I have one in mind. I am more wondering how much having an external letter is necessary, since I think the other faculty member would write me a better one. As for asking them about that, they are away for personal reasons right now, and i would like to give my writers as much time as possible, which is why I am asking here now.
    – user128219
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 23:31

1 Answer 1


Opinion only.

I think the primary goal is to have the strongest possible letters. So I would opt for a very good local letter over an alright one from somewhere else. Only if the recommendations were similar would the geography matter for me.

You might be able to work your connection to the other writer into your cover letter.

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