Graduate schools and potential employers will usually request names of references as part of the application process. Following are tips to assist you in deciding who to ask and how to ask them to be references
Guidelines – In general, between three and five references will be requested. Employers typically want a list of references names including your relationship to the person. Graduate schools typically want written letters of recommendation. Use specified forms and directions as requested.
Who – Select a good balance of people who can speak highly of you as a potential candidate. References may include instructors, department heads, work supervisors, co-workers, internship supervisors, volunteer site coordinator, academic advisors or club/organization advisors.
Selection – Choose references that would be able to comment on your academic ability based on your classroom performance, or on your ability as an employee based on work experience, or on your ability to lead, participate in and coordinate activities.
Mix – graduate schools will generally be more interested in faculty references and employers generally are more interested in work supervisors. Unless requested specifically, do not use relatives or friends for references.
Making the request – Always ask for permission from the reference before citing his/her name. Make sure to provide references with any supporting material they request including a copy of your resume, transcript or personal statements. If letters need to be written, ask well in advance of the due date and provide envelopes and stamps.
Follow-up – Keep your references informed of changes in application sites or additional qualifications you may have gained. Always send a thank-you note to those who have agreed to be a reference. Follow-up to inform references of the status of your search process.