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References and Letters of Recommendation

References are a list of 3-5 people who can speak to your experience, preferably people who have supervised or overseen your work. Letters of recommendation are typically one page in length and written by someone who can speak to your work and knows you well.

  • Before listing someone as a reference or as a letter writer, ask permission.
  • Be aware of deadlines and inform your letter writers and references to give them as much notice as possible.

If you need assistance, Career Development is here to help you. Call (507-933-7575), use Handshake, or stop in to schedule an appointment or drop in during the academic year to meet with a Peer Career Advisor.


  • Select 3-5 people who can speak to your experience, preferably people who have supervised or overseen your work.
  • List your strongest reference first. References should be ordered based on their relation to the opportunity to which you are applying.
  • Before listing someone as a reference, ask permission and allow them to say no. Provide them with a current résumé and inform them of the opportunities to which you are applying.
  • Utilize the reference’s professional information including organization name, job title, address, and contact information (unless otherwise requested by the reference).
  • Keep references up to date on your progress. Let your references know when you have accepted a position and thank them for their assistance.
  • Do NOT use “References Available Upon Request” on your résumé. It is expected that you will have a list of references and a reference document ready to go.
  • The header for the reference page should be the same name/contact header as used for your résumé.

Letters of Recommendation

If letters of recommendation are required, typically you would request two or three. Depending on the program or position, both professors or professionals in your field of interest could be considered to write letters. It is important that the letter writer knows you well enough for them to write a strong letter for you.

Identify those whom you’d like to write your letters and make an appointment to meet with them. Inform them of your application plans, your goals and career interests. If the person agrees to write you a letter, provide them with relevant materials that will assist them in writing a strong letter, such as your résumé/CV, cover letter/personal statement, a copy of transcripts, or relevant coursework/research you have competed.

Provide your letter writers with the contact information and submission requirements/official recommendation forms. If the letter of recommendation is to be mailed, provide the letter writer with stamped and addressed envelopes. If the writer is to submit the letter directly, ask for a copy of the letter for your records.

Inform letter writers of the deadline and give them plenty of time. It takes time to write a good letter! Follow up with your letter writers a week before the submission deadline if you have not received confirmation that the letter has been submitted.

What Goes Into A Letter of Recommendation:

The content will include specific factual, not subjective, examples based on the writer’s personal
experience or observation of the candidate.

  • If an opinion is expressed, it will be identified as opinion and not fact.
  • The letter will likely be one page in length and may be on official letterhead.
  • Very personal information like race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, citizenship
    status, gender, marital status, etc. should not be a part of a letter of recommendation.
  • The letter should include an original, not electronic, signature.


Contact & Location


Johnson Student Union 209
800 West College Avenue
Saint Peter, MN 56082

Career Service Hours

Monday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Tuesday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Wednesday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Thursday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm