Department Tips on Reference Letters

Basic Issues

  • Gather the information you need prior to writing your letter.

  • Can you honestly provide a reference that the student employee would want?  If you cannot provide a "good" reference, be honest with the student and share with them your reservations. Be direct and let them know the type of reference you can be for them. If you do write items that are less than positive, the issues must be well documented and not of a personal nature. Your best option is to not provide a letter if you cannot be supportive of their candidacy.

  • If you are asked to write a letter and you agree to write it, you are responsible for getting it done.  Ask the student/employee for a deadline.  People are counting on your support to get jobs or gain entry to graduate school.  Missed deadlines or lack of action may impact their status.

  • Make each letter unique for each student. While you may have a number of letters to write, do well by each student.