Career and Professional Development

Recommendations, References and Referrals

Students look to faculty and staff for advising, networking, referrals, references, and potential job sources. Please keep in mind as you begin to write letters for students, although we all want to provide as much assistance as possible for our students as they move toward their post-graduation goals, there are legal and ethical issues to consider. Therefore, the Office of Career and Professional Development strongly encourages staff and faculty to review guidelines prior to writing letters or serving as references.

NACE resources:

Faculty Guide to Ethical and Legal Standards in Student Hiring

Sample Faculty Reference Letter

Key Takeaways and Tips

You may assist students by serving as a reference and referral, but not as an applicant screener for employers.

  • Do not disclose your “top students.” Provide access to all students that have declared an interest in such opportunities.  Let the employer decide who is the best fit.
  • All opportunities should be referred to the Office of Career and Professional Development so as to assure equal opportunity, equal access, and appropriate follow up.
  • Ask a potential employer for a job announcement to which you may strongly encourage your students to apply. Send a copy of the job announcement to CPD to be posted on Spartan Jobs.

When serving as a reference or writing a letter of recommendation, keep in mind guidelines that will protect you as a reference and the student.

  • Obtain written permission from the student
  • Discuss your reference with the student so that there are no surprises
  • Provide only information based upon firsthand knowledge
  • Respond to the specific inquiry regarding the student’s ability to do the job
  • Avoid personal matters or any information that may indicate an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, sex or marital status
  • If you are unaware that the applicant has named you as a reference, ask the prospective employer for verification that the person has given consent for the reference
  • There is no such thing as “off the record”

If you have any questions regarding these issues, please contact the Office of Career and Professional Development.