Adapted from the Five Golden Rules of Reference Etiquette

  1. Select. Your references should be current and relevant to the desired position.

  2. Prepare. It is important to make sure your references are comfortable and ready to speak positively on your behalf. This requires providing as much time as possible to put together your reference. The quicker the turnaround time, the more preparation and guidance you should give your reference. Additionally, it is okay to specify points you want them to cover.

  3. Reach out. Contact your desired reference and ask if they are willing to be a reference for you. If they agree, be sure to thank them for supporting you.

  4. Inform. Let them know each and every time you give out their contact information.

  5. Update. Keep in contact with your references and provide them with updates on your academic and career progress.

  6. Appreciate. After receiving a reference, always write a thank you letter. You can even give a gift, or offer to take them out for coffee or lunch.

  7. Update and Appreciate (again). When you get the news about the desired position, be sure to contact your reference again and thank them for their reference. Let them know the outcome and your decision on the position. Provide your new contact information if needed.

See our handout on Asking for Recommendation Letters

See OSU Career Development Center's handout on Tips on Requesting References and Letters of Recommendation 


Say thank you at every step of the way!

If someone agrees to be a reference .. say thank you!
If they provide a reference letter … say thank you!
If you get (or don't get) the desired position ... say thank you!