Letters of Recommendation/References

Many jobs or graduate programs will require you to obtain recommendations from people in a position to vouch for your qualifications in the field. Often, the types of recommendations that are requested for graduate programs include one academic, one personal (outside of family), and one employment. References for jobs should be employers or those who can speak about your work ethic, character, and why you are a good candidate for a position.

Letters of Recommendation:

It is a good idea to acquire letters of recommendation from people such as your advisor or a professor at your college before you leave school. Often, when you leave, it is harder to track down professors/advisors who have busy schedules. 

When asking for a letter of recommendation:

  • Send a written request for the recommendation to each person being asked. Give them at least two-four weeks to complete.
  • Provide each with:
    1. A copy of your resume and any other information you feel is relevant (job position, grad school/program you are applying to, etc.)
    2. A form or guidelines that outline exactly what is expected in the recommendation
    3. How many copies you are requesting (for future use)
    4. The deadline by which the recommendation must be received
    5. Correctly addressed, stamped enveloped
  • Send a THANK YOU NOTE to each person who takes the time to do this for you.


For references (listed separately from your resume), ask permission first before listing previous employers and their contact information. Contact information should include the name, organization, address, phone number and email.

  • You should list three references (no more, no less) when applying to a job. Make sure to include your contact information (similar to the top of your resume) on your "References" page.
  • When applying for a position, email or send the position description to your references to give them a "heads-up" that the employer may be contacting them. By having the job description, they can also speak for specifically as to why you are a good candidate for that particular position.
  • Again, make sure to thank your references for offering to speak positively (hopefully!) on your behalf!