References & Letters of Recommendation
A reference is an individual who speaks on your behalf regarding qualifications for employment or admission to graduate and professional school. Typically, organizations request a minimum of three references and they can be that make-or-break aspect of the job search process, as employers can get a better idea of who you are when they talk to someone who knows you.
Who & How to Ask for a Reference
You should ask a variety of people to serve as a reference for you. This gives you flexibility to select certain references for specific opportunities. Consider the following when choosing your references:
- Who has directly seen you in specific settings using the needed or desired skills? Examples may include current or former employers, teachers, faculty, coaches or advisers.
- Can they support your application for employment or graduate school?
- Can they speak positively about your qualifications and realistically evaluate your ability to perform a job or succeed academically?
Typically, a personal reference – a family member, friend of the family, priest, minister, pastor or rabbi – may not be the best choice
Remember — you must gain an individual’s permission before listing them as a reference. It is best to ask people to serve as a reference in person, but if that isn't possible, a personal phone call or email are suggested. When some agrees to be a reference for you, you can ask them to write a letter of recommendation for you to provide with your resume. To create and format a list of references to accompany your resume, use this Sample Reference Page.
Additional Resume Resources
If you're applying for a role outside the U.S. or if you're applying for a job within the U.S. Federal Government.