Recommendations and References

References and letters of recommendation fulfill a similar function: someone who knows you well can speak to your skills and experiences to potential employers on your behalf. So, what's the difference? 

 

References

Letter of Recommendation

  • References are typically submitted to employers as a list of 2-3 people whom you have had professional and/or academic relationships who can attest to your skills, experiences, and work ethic.
  • Don't go personal--avoid asking your family and friends to be your professional references. 
  • For each reference provide their name, job title, email, phone number, and your relationship.
  • Notify all your references that you will use their information and the position that you're applying for.
  • Helpful information to forward to your references: recent resume, quality papers, projects, or responsibilities in which you excelled. 
  • Give employer references only if you are instructed to do so. Otherwise, bring a hard copy to the interview.
  • Let your references know about your  subsequent success and how they helped you to attain your goal.
  • A letter of recommendation is a letter written by people who know you and your capabilities, such as professors, advisors, supervisors, or influential friends who have known you for a long time. 
  • Relatives are not a good choice.
  • Address letter to employer or selection committee.
  • Give writers enough time (at least one month) to write the letter.
  • Provide your letter writer a copy of your resume or past work from their class. Knowing what you have done and what type of position you are interested in allows them to include details that will help you to achieve those goals. Also, let them know how to submit the letter.
  • Once you receive your letters, send writers thank you notes!
  • Let your writers know about your subsequent success and how they helped you to attain your goal. 
Questions? Contact a coach via email or phone.
We have handouts online! Check out our References Guide online here

Store your letters for graduate school or to use at a later time.