An academic referee is someone who provides a reference regarding your abilities, something all graduates will need at some point. In this post we provide a few tips for picking an academic referee, focusing on those applying for postgraduate education, though much of this advice also applies to professional references. Our tips include:
Think about your college lecturers and who can vouch for your skills.
Ask your preferred referees before making any applications.
Give your referees the information they need to write a strong reference.
If necessary (e.g., if you’ve been out of education for a while), look for a non-academic referee who can support your application.
Make sure to thank your referees for their help.
Check out our advice below to make sure you pick the right referees when applying for a job or a place on a postgraduate course.
1. Find the Best Academic Referees
To make sure your references have impact, you’ll want to pick referees:
Who know you well and can vouch for the quality of your work.
Who are familiar names in the subject area you want to study.
This could just be your favorite professor. But it’s always worth researching and contacting potential referees during your studies, especially if you think you’ll want to move on to a postgraduate degree at some point.
2. Ask First!
Fairly often, academics only find out they’re someone’s referee when they receive a call asking for a reference! Try not to let this happen.
This is often as simple as dropping your preferred referee an email or phone call before listing them, especially if you’ve used them as a referee before.
If you’ve not requested a reference from someone before, though, you might want to offer to meet them and discuss the details of your reference first.
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3. Provide All Information Required
This one cuts two ways: firstly, your referee may want to know more about you, so provide any information they request. Meeting in person can help here, as you can bring your resume or postgraduate application with you.
Secondly, make sure to get all the information you need for the school to which you’re applying to contact your referee. This will usually include your relationship with the referee, their role, and their contact details. If you’re not sure what to include, though, check the application instructions.
4. Non-Academic References
If you’ve been out of education for a while, it may not be easy (or relevant) to get back in touch with your old lecturers. In these circumstances, you can typically use a non-academic referee instead.
Remember, though, that non-academic referees shouldn’t be friends or family members. Instead, pick someone you know from a professional setting, especially if you have work experience relevant to your application.
5. Say Thanks!
You don’t have to go overboard on gratitude, but a quick “thank you” note to your referees would not be amiss. This just shows that you appreciate the time they took to write a reference. And, on a more selfish level, this means they’re more likely to offer another reference if you need one in the future!
If you are preparing an application for work or further studies, moreover, don’t forget to have your documents proofread. We have experts ready to help, so why not submit a sample document for free today?