Employers and graduate/professional schools considering you for employment/admission may require you to provide a list of references and/or reference letters for them to review. References verify your experience and confirm your credibility. Additionally, employers and graduate/professional schools use references to increase their confidence that your skills, abilities, past job and school performance, and accomplishments make you a good fit for the position and/or program. Careful consideration should be given to whom you ask to serve as your reference.
Identifying Your References
Consider asking professors, advisors, supervisors/bosses, and co-workers to serve as a reference for you.
As a college student or recent alumnus, at least one should be a professor or faculty member.
Choose wisely. If an individual has minimal knowledge of your professional experience, do not ask him or her to serve as your reference. For example, you would be better represented if you selected an individual who knows you well and can speak of your skills than if you selected a well-respected professional in your field who knows you very little about you.
If the person seems hesitant to serve as your reference, ask someone else. Do not settle.
Personally contact each person to ask if he or she will serve as your reference.
If possible, schedule time to speak with each individual to share the types of positions you are interested in applying for and how you see your qualifications fitting with those positions.
Ask early and be respectful. Ask individuals to serve as a reference and/or write letters of recommendation for you well in advance of date they will be contacted and/or need to turn in their letters.
Build your recommendation portfolio by asking your employer or supervisor to write you a letter whenever you leave or complete your job if you left on good terms. If you have great interactions with a professor and did well in class, you may also ask the professor to write a letter for you at the end of the semester.
Providing Your References With Information
Provide your references with your current resume, summary of goals, and any other document (e.g., transcript) you feel is necessary for them to provide thorough and positive information for your candidacy.
Notify your references when you have included them in a job application.
If you are requesting the reference to write a letter of recommendation, you should provide a stamped and addressed envelope. Also, you may include a cover sheet with a list of the graduate schools or employers for which you are requesting letters to be sent.
Thanking Your References
Send a thank-you card to your reference after you know the letter has been sent out or that he or she has spoken with the employer/graduate school.
You may also consider contacting your references to update them of your outcome.
Formatting Your Reference Page
Be sure to use your same resume contact heading and information on your reference page in case both documents are separated.
Use the same font and font size that you used for your resume.
Citing Your References
While there are some exceptions, your reference page should be a separate page from your resume. The following is an example of how you may list your references' contact information.
John D. Doe, PhD
Assistant Professor of Management
University of Central Missouri
Ward Edwards 2000
Warrensburg, Missouri 64093