References and Recommendations Guide

References and Recommendations Guide for Graduate Students and Postdocs

Information you will find here:

The Purpose of References

Employers ask for your references for several reasons. Perhaps the primary reason is to verify that what you say about yourself in your applications and interviews is true. References provide more perspectives or add to the picture you have created about who you are. Finally, if an organization is choosing between top candidates, the strength of references is usually a major factor in the decision.

Identifying Your Reference and Asking for their Support

  • First step: Identify who will speak best regarding your strengths, in relation to the particular kinds of jobs you are seeking
  • Second step: Let the potential referee know of your job search, and ask if they would available as a reference, and be able to give you a good recommendation
  • Third step: Provide your references updates as you job search, including letting them know what kinds of organizations you are targeting, when they might be hearing from the employer AND/OR when the written letters of reference are due for your application.
  • Next step: Keep your references posted regarding your progress in your job search. Be sure to thank them for their help.

    Providing References in Written Applications

    A sample reference list will look like this:


    Salutation, Name, Title, Department, Organization
    Telephone, Email
    (in some occasions, it is appropriate to write how you know the reference/your relationship to them)

    Dr. Manuel Garcia, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania
    Telephone: 215-898�1000;  Email:

    Dr. Christine Kelly, Stanley M. Zimmerman Professor of Economics and Finance,  Department of Economics, UCLA
    Telephone: 314-898�1000;  Email:

    Non Academic Job Search
    Usually there is no need to list your references on the resume, and "references available on request" is so obvious as to be unnecessary. However, if your references are so well-known that the mere inclusion of their names strengthens your qualifications, you may want to mention them within the resume or in your cover letter, once you have permission to do so.

    Eventually, most employers will ask for a list of references. Once you have the permission of your contacts/references, provide their names, titles, telephone numbers and email addresses. If it is not clear how you know the person, it can be helpful to list the relationship as part of the references page. (i.e., Internship Supervisor, XYC Corp, 2008-2009.)

    References in Your CV for Academic Jobs
    Having strong letters of recommendation from faculty who know your work well is crucial to a successful job search. Your references are an extremely important way for prospective employers to assess your potential as a scholar and a professional. They want to hear what kind of impact you have had in your field. While it is really up to you as to whether you list your references on the CV, a majority of job candidates do just that. Even if you are certain your advisor and committee members will serve as references for you it is common courtesy to ask and to give them plenty of time to write letters.

    To list references on your CV include for each one their name, title, department, institution, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address.

    Provide the same number of references that the employer requests.

    Provide the contact information for the people who may have already submitted letters on your behalf. Don't provide different contacts than those submitting letters.

    Determine how the letters will be submitted - directly from your advisor, through your department administrator/coordinator, or via Interfolio (credential file management service). You also have the option to use the free dossier service offered by Vitae - an academic career focused community and career resource website offered by the Chronicle of Higher Education.


    Formatting for Email, Print or Online Applications
    Use simple formatting for online applications through website forms.

    If you send your reference list by email, save it in a pdf document, and name it with your name and date, such as "J.CohenReferenceList2013.pdf" instead of "references.pdf"

    Have paper copies printed on good quality paper. You may choose white or some neutral color. Print on only one side of each page.

    Additional Resources

    You can make an appointment with a career advisor at any time, but you'll find it more helpful if you have a draft version of your CV or resume and your reference lists (and/or other job search materials) to get the most useful feedback. To make an appointment, call 215-898-7530. You can also come by during regular walk-in hours, but note these sessions are for only 15 minutes.

    Articles on selecting references

    For the Academic Job Search

    For Business, Nonprofit, Government positions: