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Letters of Recommendation

Contact Career Services Office:

Phone: (585) 389-2878
Fax: (585) 389-2458

You may be asked by your students for letters of recommendation for graduate school or job applications. A few tips and our sample letter may make the process easier.

Click here to download a sample faculty reference letter.

Forwarding Letters to Us for a Student's Credential File

  • Students can set up a file with our office to retain letters of reference.
  • All letters received by Career Services are optically scanned, indexed and stored on a secure server.
  • For this reason, please submit letters of recommendation with a BLACK and WHITE college logo; color does not scan.
  • Students using the office's credential service can have their letters sent via email, postal mail, fax or have them uploaded to certain online application web sites.
  • Students can choose to designate these letters as "confidential" meaning not subject to their review. However, you should not assume this is so unless the student gives you a signed form from our office to that effect. Absent that signed form, students have access to letters written about them and kept by Career Services.

Tips for Faculty When Providing References

1. Verify Consent

Prior to providing a reference, obtain consent from the person about whom the reference will be given. If you are unaware that the job applicant has named you as a reference, ask the prospective employer for verification that the individual has given consent for the reference. Such verification could include a copy of the student's signed application listing you as a reference, your name listed as a reference on the student's resume, or verbal confirmation by the student to you.

2. Reference Type

Discuss the type of reference that you will provide with the person who asks you to be a reference. If you cannot provide a good reference, be honest with the individual. Don't promise a "glowing reference" and then provide merely a "glimmer."

3. Providing Non-Confidential Letters Directly to Students

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4. Be Specific

If possible, relate your reference letter to the specific position for which the person applied and to the work that the applicant will perform. Give specific examples to illustrate your points.

5. Stay Formal

Informal lunch discussions or "off the record" telephone conversations with prospective employers regarding a person's performance should be avoided. There is no such thing as "off the record."

6. Just the Facts

Information given should be factual, 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.

Avoid giving personal opinions or feelings. If you make subjective statements or give opinions because they are requested, clearly identify them as opinions and not as fact. If you give an opinion explain the incident or circumstances on which you base the opinion.

Don't guess or speculate-if someone asks you questions regarding personal characteristics about which you have no knowledge, state that you have no knowledge.

7. Confidentiality

When writing a confidential reference letter, we suggest you state in the letter, "This information is confidential, should be treated as such, and is provided at the request of (name of student or applicant), who has asked me to serve as a reference." Statements such as these give justification for the communication and leave no doubt that the information was not given to hurt a person's reputation.

8. Personal Privacy

Do not include information that might indicate an individual's race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, citizenship status, sex (unless by the individual's name it is obvious), or marital status. Do not base an opinion of performance on stereotypes about an individual, for instance "for a woman, she excels in math."

9. Documentation

Document all information you release. It is a good idea to save copies of each letter you prepare.

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