By Carly Smith, Associate Director, Career Readiness
This summer, I have been thinking a lot about references. Being at the same company now since 2011, it’s been a while since I’ve had to think about who I would use myself if asked to provide a list of 3-4 people who can speak highly about me to a future employer, grad school, etc. However, this summer reminded me why I should always be thinking about who these people might be. In my position at the Toppel Career Center, I have both given many references to those who have worked for me or with me. I have also been on the other side, calling references for those I am considering hiring. I had the opportunity this year to serve as a reference for someone who I admire and love working with, and it felt wonderful to know that my positive endorsement might help support that person in their goals. However, there have also been a few situations I encountered recently that made me realize that finding a great reference is tricky, and not everyone may know the best tips and strategies for finding the right person. So, here are my three major rules for finding the best reference for you.
#1. Make sure the person you are asking to be a reference knows you well enough to speak well of you.
I learned this lesson as a college senior. Not knowing who I wanted to write me a recommendation for graduate school, I chose some faculty members that I had taken classes with recently and performed well. Everything seemed all great, until one of those individuals turned me down. I was caught off guard. Why is this person saying no to me when I took the time to ask for a recommendation? Well, it was for one huge reason. This individual was a lecturer at my university and the course that I had taken with her was only a one credit course, so she felt her recommendation would not be as well received as from someone who I knew better and spent more time with. In the end, she was right, and I chose a professor who I had a better relationship with. I have carried this with me into my current job, and will sometimes turn down a reference request if I don’t feel that my recommendation will be able to be as great as I know it should be. These people usually agree and find someone much more knowledgeable about them. Continue reading “The 3 Rules of References”