Handling References & Recommendations

As a faculty or staff member, students and alumni may ask you to be a reference or to write a recommendation on their behalf. The Hiatt Career Center provides them with a How To page with helpful advice and instructions about the differences between a reference and a recommendation, choosing whom to ask, and the proper way to approach you. This can be a helpful resource for you, too, when you need to have a conversation with the student or alumnus about the request, especially if you have some reluctance or hesitation about endorsing the individual or need more information.

You may also receive recommendation requests from students and alumni via LinkedIn. Learn more about interacting with students and alumni on LinkedIn.

Once you have agreed to serve as a reference, you might have questions about protocol, particularly as laws can change regarding confidentiality. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has compiled information regarding questions you may have concerning the legality, protocol, confidentiality, discrimination policy, etc. for writing or otherwise providing references. Also, do not hesitate to contact the Hiatt Career Center should you need more advice or information.

If you are writing a letter of recommendation for graduate school, funding sources, or some other purpose, an electronic or paper form may be provided by the student or you may choose to use your department stationary with letterhead to write your endorsement. A handy online resource for writing recommendations written by Joe Schall of Penn State can be found here.

Once you have completed your letters, the credentials page will introduce you to Interfolio, an electronic record-keeping database which stores your written material for free. The student or alumnus will be notified when your document has been stored in their account. Students and alumni pay a small fee each year to store all written materials.