Many organizations and graduate schools require references or letters of recommendation with their applications. The structure of these documents vary. For example, your references may sometimes need to mail a letter or they may need to fill out a form online.

The following tips will help you as you prepare to ask for references or letters of recommendation: 

  1. Be thoughtful when considering references. These should be individuals who can speak to your strengths, talents, and/or successes in multiple areas. Some people, such as family members, are not appropriate to ask.
  2. No surprises! Ask the individuals to be references and provide them upfront with the information they will need.
  3. Have a conversation with your references about which strengths and experiences you are hoping to highlight. These may vary from reference to reference in order to give a well-rounded impression to the reviewers.
  4. If letters or reference forms need to be mailed, give your references the materials they will need. This includes an addressed envelope that is ready to be mailed with a postage stamp.
  5. Remember your organization skills! Keep track of how many recommendation letters or references you need for which positions/programs, deadlines, and methods of delivery.
  6. Give your references plenty of time, especially if there is a specific deadline. Be considerate of your references’ schedule.
  7. Send your reference a thank you note! Remember to send or deliver these notes promptly, within a week of the deadline.

By planning ahead and being respectful of your references time you will ensure success with these easy steps.

Good Luck!