The majority of PhD holders do not stay on in academia, but rather move on to jobs in industry far away from the area of their PhDs. Given that the content of the PhD is not directly relevant (the common wisdom is that a PhD holder has "learned how to learn"), what should one include in reference letters for an academic applying for industry jobs? What qualities are those in industry looking for? Does the answer vary for newly minted PhDs vs more experienced researchers?

  • 2
    Are you asking from the perspective of a letter writer? Note that there are very different kinds of "industry" jobs. Some are a lot like academia, others not at all. There are probably distinctions by field, as well.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 15:23
  • @Buffy the question came up in a discussion and I realised I didn’t have a good answer. Answers addressing any fields of academia/industry would be welcome!
    – Aru Ray
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 16:04
  • "Industry" is a big place, but in my experience, industry employers do not ask for letters of recommendation at all. Instead, they will ask for "references," which they will contact by phone or e-mail. If you are in a field or part of the world where industry employers really do want written letters of recommendation, it might be worth specifying.
    – cag51
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


There are a lot of examples of recomendation letters in Internet for both, industry and academia. So, you can take any of them and present your skills and experience in the corresponding way.

You must log in to answer this question.

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