Tips for Providing References

  • Prior to providing a reference, obtain written consent from the person about whom the reference will be given.
  • Develop policies and procedures about providing references including, if possible, designating specific individuals to provide references.
  • Employers are encouraged to provide only “necessary” information. This includes dates of employment, salary information, and position.
  • Follow your organization’s policy regarding providing a reference.
  • Avoid lunch discussions or “off the record” telephone conversations with prospective employers regarding a person's performance.
  • If you are unaware that the job applicant has named you as a reference, ask the prospective employer for verification that the person has given consent for the reference.
  • Provide only factual information, based upon personal knowledge/observation of the person through direct contact with the person or obtained from the person’s personnel record or student record.
  • Respond to direct and specific inquiries about the job applicant as per your organization’s policies and procedures. Direct the response to the person who requested the information.
  • Relate the reference to the specific position for which the person applied and the work that the applicant will perform.
  • Do not provide subjective statements or opinions; only provide factual information that can be substantiated.
  • Maintain uniformity with referrals.

For more tips on providing references and recommendations, read the linked article published by NACE’s Principles of Professional Practice Committee.