Teach English in Korea: How to Get Your Reference Letters Done Quickly

Reference letters, although not difficult, can take some time.  If you request a reference letter from someone you will be dependent upon their ability (or willingness) to take time out of their day to write it, print it, sign it,  scan it, and email it to you.  If you’ve asked a former boss to provide a reference letter and they truly are busy (not all bosses are created equal) then it may be very difficult for them to take time out to do it.
I figured this would be the case seeing that my two references came from a CIO of a medical devices company, and a Managing Partner of a management consulting company.  What I decided to do was to write the reference letters for them.  I spelled out what my functions were when I worked for them, my title, some specific responsibilities that may be teacher-friendly, and some personal statement about why they would feel I’d make a great teacher.  After drafting the letter I emailed it to them.  This way, all they had to do was have their secretary print out the letter and have them sign it.  After that, the secretary could scan it and email it back to me.  Piece of cake.
One of the letters I wrote was a bit short according to my recruiter so I reached out to a director of a homeless ministry I once volunteered at.  I did the same thing, scripting the letter and just sending it to them to have it signed.  In all cases I had the letters back within 1-3 days.  Done.
I would recommend making reference letters at least one full page.  No extreme blank gaps or useless fillers like images or logos.  If you do this, you’ll have great reference letters in no time and be teaching in Korea quicker than you can say “kimchi”.


  1. I just finished an interview with Korvia Consulting. Are you familiar with them? They are helping me prepare documents for Epik Fall 2014. Thanks for your website! It helped me so much! Have a great day.

  2. Great article on how to ask for reference letters.

    On the other hand, I just managed to get one of my professors who is willing to write me one. BUT he does NOT want to send me a scanned version of his letter due to confidentiality and integrity reasons.

    Since I will working with a recruiter, the best I can do is have him send it directly to them.

    While I realize you do not have much experience with it, do you have any other suggestions about this dilemma?

    • Peter,

      I would either try to reason with him so he/she understands the letter needs to go to a recruiter, or try to find other willing folks to write you a recommendation.


      • THank you for the advice. After I had consulted the recruiter about it, thankfully he agreed. My reference there I think sent it in.

        Though personally I am sure that it was hard to twist his arms as I do want to respect the procedures upwards at the end of the day.

  3. On the other hand, I have a referee who agreed to write me a reference letter and just sent one to me. Yet he asks me to sign his name for the sake of time/ease.

    While I understand his truly busy schedule, would you think that is okay to do? While I am concerned about the integrity, I am slowly thinking that maybe its okay as long as he gave me permission.

  4. Also since I see you had to deal with bosses who are truly very very busy to write you a letter of reference, I understand you decided to write them yourself for them to sign.

    Personally I wouldn’t mind . Except, on the other hand, could there be a ethical issue with that?Especially if EPIK/south korea discovers that? Would it be possible that south korea can detect that , which can sink their credibility faster?

  5. Late to the game but just wanted to point out that it is not unethical since your reference does have the option to refuse signing what you wrote. I’ve approached people, explicitly asking if they could write me a favorable recommendation, and a few of them asked me to just write one up for them to review and sign.

    As long as you ask someone you know fairly well, and you write it in the most truthful (albeit flattering) way, you will be fine. If your rec signs it, they are endorsing it as if they had written it themselves.

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