How To Prepare And Present Work Reference Letters On Your CDR

Getting Down Under Australia

How To Prepare And Present Work Reference Letters On Your CDRProspective CDR applicants seem to be a little confused or not very sure about how to prepare and present work reference letters.

These reference letters are required by Engineers Australia for Additional Assessment under the new points test which became effective on 1 July 2011. T

The reference letters supplied by an applicant MUST have adequate information for Engineers Australia to enable EA to give their opinion about the applicant’s years of work experience at an appropriate leve in the nominated or a closely related occupation.

1. Assessing genuineness of documents supplied:

To be able to do this EA has to first ensure that the documents submitted by an applicant are genuine and prepared as per EA requirements. EA has specified the following toward meeting this.

A reference letter must

  • be an original document, or a certified true copy of the original in accordance with the MSA Booklet, Section A, Item 5;
  • be written on the official letterhead of the company, or government department, providing the documentation;
  • indicate clearly the full address of the company and any telephone, fax numbers, email and website addresses;
  • be dated;
  • include the name and position of the person endorsing the employment document … these should be typed or stamped below that person’s signature – a reference with an illegible signature will not be accepted:
  • include the direct contact number of the person ( where the person is contactable for verification of the document and its contents)
  • endorsing the document;

2. Assessing years of experience in the nominated or closely related occupation at the appropriate level.

The next thing EA will do is to check that

  1. the job or jobs an applicant held in one or more organisation. If the job title is a generic one like assistant Engineer – it has to be expanded to include the function of the job like – Assistant Engineer – Design and Construction
  2. at least five main job duties for each job position held, They will check thar the job duties mentioned in the Career Episodes match the job duties in the reference letters.
  3. Whether a particular job was full-time or part-time. If any job position was part-time then the number of hours per week that the applicant worked each week on the job must be provided and, finally
  4. the exact starting and end dates for each job position.

From the above four pieces of information EA will try to assess which of the jobs held by an applicant relate to the nominated or a closely related occupation and what total period of time an applicant was involved in doing work related to the nominated or a closely related occupation at a professional/graduate engineer level.

Note the following:

  1. that EA may contact your referee(s) to verify the contents of your reference letters.
  2. that EA will give their opinions about the number of years of work experience you have in your nominated occupation or a closely related occupation and it will be up to DIAC to give you points for work experience.
  3. DIAC may re-verify the genuineness of the reference letters and work experience claim.

3. What you should do:

  1. Try to understand each of the points above.
  2. For each employer you worked for, prepare drafts. If you held more than one position with an employer, having been promoted from a junior position to a senior position, then you may do one of the following:(a) If you worked in the same department under the same supervisor, then prepare one reference letter mentioning different job positions. Include five main job duties for each job position.(b) If you worked in different departments in the same organisation under different supervisors, then you may get two reference letters from the two departments. In both cases make sure that the dates from leaving one position to taking up the next position match. Note that EA will count days worked and convert them to completed years. 364 days is considered less than 1 year.
  3. After completing a draft reference letter check that you have covered all four points mentioned under section 2 above.
  4. Show the EA requirements and your draft reference letter to the relevant supervisor. Your supervisor may do the rest according to company standards. Note that reference letters coming from two different companies but having similar layout, structure and contents, will not go well. Therefore, avoid using standard templates. Sit down or discuss with individual supervisor(s) about the EA requirements and make sure that contents of the reference letters are complete. Let your supervisors play the main role in preparing the reference letters. If (s)he misses out something then you may point that to him/her. Remember, it will be the supervisor who will be contacted by EA and/or DIAC and who may be asked about the job duties and other materials in a reference letter.

Thanks to Amin Rahman, one of the registered Migration Agents who posts in our forums for this Article. Amin can be contacted via his agency at

  1. nagesh 6 months ago

    Hi Mark,

    My HR doesn’t provide duties in reference letter but my supervisor has agreed to gimme a separate letter.
    Will these be sufficient? May kindly know how the duties going effect the positive outcome? I mean should my duties
    match of those ideal in Australia?


    • Author
      Mark 6 months ago

      Hey Nagesh, my initial thought is that it shouldn’t be a problem approaching it in this way, however, to be absolutely sure I would be inclined to contact Engineers Australia directly. You can find their contact numbers or a contact form here

    • Muhunthan 6 months ago

      Cheers Mark! I will contact them and see how..

      • Author
        Mark 6 months ago

        Thanks mate, If you could let us know how you get on it would be appreciated. This way we can share the knowledge with visitors that may have similar questions in the future.

        • Jenny 3 weeks ago

          Hi Mark,

          I’m facing same issue with Muhunthan, means HR doesn’t want to include duties in reference letter. Did he get back to you about this concern by any chance? Btw, I’m applying for accountant(general)
          Looking forward to your response

  2. Sarfaraz 7 months ago

    I want to apply for Australian immigration. I have 9 years of experience in two different organizations; but i have no experience letter of the former one. Can i send offer letter or clearance certificate for assessment or other requirements.


    • Author
      Mark 7 months ago

      The letter will need to indicate your responsibilities Sarfaraz. I would suggest that an offer letter would not be sufficient as this will show what you are supposed to do in the role, not what you did which is more important.

      • Sarfaraz 7 months ago

        Hi Mark,

        Thanks for the information. Would you do me a favor in understanding one more point. I have experience in telecom field but i have done 3 years bachelors in computer science and 2 years Masters in Telecom. Should i apply to engineers Australia for assessment in category Engineering Technologist or suggest me some other.


        • Author
          Mark 7 months ago

          Hi Sarfaraz

          Sometimes the best way to consider the CDR assessment process is a little like a job interview.

          If you were to apply for two roles, one as a telecoms engineer and one as a computer technologist, which of the two roles would you be most likely to see success?

          This role is the role you should be seeking assessment in via the CDR process.

          If you have any further questions, please consider joining the free group we recently launched here. This way you can reach out directly to other engineers who are also making the move to Australia.

          All the best


  3. Farhan 2 years ago


    I am a fresh Post-graduate electrical engineer looking to migrate to Australia. I dont have any work experience because I had been unable to land a job for the past one year. how would I prepare my CDR as i have no professional experience neither any CPD trainings.


  4. shady ewida 3 years ago

    Hi , i have alot of questions )))
    first : My reference letter only got a official company stamp only , managers in my country dont use stamps , is this will cause a problem ( both my ref letter and certificate of experience have only official stamp )
    second : My company i worked with ( 3 years ) was shut down , so contacting them will be impossible , should i attach personal contact info of my direct managers or what to do ?

  5. Leonardo 3 years ago

    Hi, I have a question:
    My first career episode was in Zambia, second in Australia and third is my current job. How would I get the proper reference letters from old employers? Thank you!

    • Author
      Mark 3 years ago

      Hi Leonardo. I suggest you start with the HR contact for each organization and go from there.

      Good luck!



  6. Dirk Reichert 5 years ago

    Dear Mark,
    thank you for this valuable contribution. It is very helpful.

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