References/Letters of Recommendation

Tips for Professional References

Whether you are applying for a job, graduate school, or a volunteer position you may be expected to provide 3 or 4 professional references. 

  • It is a good idea to plan ahead about which professional references would serve you best. Find references from different areas in your life so organizations can hear a variety of your assets. For example, an applicant may want a reference from a professor in their major, a professor outside of their major, and one from their work experience.
    • Professors can usually write about your work and can often comment on your interpersonal skills. 
    • Supervisors or coaches have seen your practical skills and can comment on how you might fit into an organization or program.  
  • Secure your references ahead of your application deadlines - ideally a month in advance.
  • Make sure your references know what the organization or program expects from them. Consider including a link to the job description or program you are applying to, as well as your resume. 
  • Once you secure your references, ask them to provide their preferred contact information:

Job title
Work address
Work phone number
Work e-mail address

  • Sample List of References
  • Letters of Recommendation:
    • Provide the person with a resume to review the activities you have been and are involved in and the skills/experience you would like highlighted. The more information you can provide them the better.
    • Make sure to provide your reference with a deadline and at least one month’s notice. Consider setting a deadline of a couple of weeks before the actual due date and then check back to make sure the letter was sent.
    • Send a thank-you note to the letter writer when the process is complete.