References & Letters of Recommendation

References and letters of recommendation are among the materials you may be asked to provide an employer during a job search or submit when applying for a grant/scholarship or to graduate school. It is important to understand the distinction between them and how to appropriately request them.

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References are usually requested during the job search/interview process. You should plan on providing an employer with a list of 3-4 references at the time of your interview, unless specifically requested earlier. Current students should plan to provide a combination of academic and professional references. Plan ahead and, at the beginning of your job search, ask professionals and professors if they will be able to serve as a reference for you and speak positively about your contribution. Think about people with which you have had significant contact who can speak about your work and character. It is helpful to provide your potential references with your resume, the job description and a sample of the work that you completed during your time of employment or while in their class. Once they agree to be a reference for you, you will want to provide the following information about your reference to a prospective employer.

Robin Reference
Account Manager, ABC Advertising Agency
123 Market Street, 3rd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 123-4567

References do not belong on your resume, but should be prepared on a separate sheet of paper, with your resume header at the top of the page. Make sure you let your references know when you have submitted their contact information to an employer, along with details about the position so they can provide appropriate information on your behalf. Thank them after they have been contacted and update them on the status of your employment.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are different from reference lists because you are asking someone to a write a letter recommending you for a graduate program, grant/scholarship, or employment opportunity. Most employers will request a list of references, but you may choose to supply letter(s) of recommendation as supplemental materials. Below you will find a list of things to consider when requesting letters of recommendation.