I recently left academia. A former student of mine asked for a letter of recommendation for graduate school applications. I've typically seen references sign with their title, to provide context. Should I sign mine as follows?

My Name
Former Thisorthat Postdoctoral Fellow
Former Institution Name

  • 5
    You should provide the context in the first paragraph of your letter. Dec 4, 2020 at 6:52
  • 3
    I think your example is good but you should make sure it is clear that Institution Name is the name where you have been, not where you are now.
    – user111388
    Dec 4, 2020 at 6:56
  • I use the electronic letterhead of my former institution and place "(retired)" after my title in the signature area. I've recommended students to advanced programs at that very same institution, including in my own department. No one has complained.
    – Bob Brown
    Dec 7, 2020 at 17:49
  • 5
    @BobBrown Perhaps there is a difference between doing that as a retired faculty member- one who spend a long career- and a person who was a postdoc for a couple years.
    – Damila
    Dec 7, 2020 at 17:58
  • 1
    @Damila Yes. That's why my answer below is different. The comment is t help someone in a position similar ro mine.
    – Bob Brown
    Dec 7, 2020 at 20:31

2 Answers 2


In your case, write on personal letterhead. As Alexander Woo has said, the first paragraph should be something like this: "I'm writing in support of the application of Bob Brown to your doctor of divinity program. Bob was my student when I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Close Cover Before Striking University." Then you go on to explain briefly your qualifications to make the recommendation and in more detail why Bob would make an excellent and successful DD student.


Per helpful suggestions in comments on the question, from @Alexander-Woo and @user111388, I described the context within which I worked with the student, and then later left academia, in the first paragraph:

It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend Student for Grad Program in Research Field, at Your University. Student was an outstanding contributor to the team that I led as a postdoc at My Former Institution. Although I have since left academic research to work in industry my research experience with Student demonstrates her excellent fit and preparation for a career in Research Field.

And amended my signature (also in the question statement), to clarify I meant my most recent academic institution, at which I worked with the student:

My Name
Former Thisorthat Postdoctoral Fellow
My Former Institution

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .