Tips for serving as a reference

As a faculty or staff member, you may be asked to serve as a reference for Puget Sound students. It’s a meaningful way for you to support students as they pursue opportunities, and we encourage you to do so.

This page will help you navigate the process and provide you with resources to guide you as you perform this important role.

Please visit the University of Puget Sound Human Resources site for information about the college’s approach to employment verification and reference requests.

Potential employers may require students to provide verification of previous employment. Verification typically includes confirmation of job title, and start and end dates of employment. Career and Employment Services facilitates employment verifications in all instances for all Puget Sound students. Please direct students/employers to CES if they request an employment verification.

Potential employers may ask students to provide references from individuals who can address the candidate’s qualifications in light of a specific employment opportunity. Generally, serving as an employment reference will result in a phone conversation between reference and potential employer. The prospective employer will ask questions about the candidate’s background, experience, qualifications as they may specifically relate to the position for which the student has applied.

Please note that it is important to verify that the candidate has provided written permission for the prospective employer to gather the information, and for you to provide it. It is appropriate to ask the prospective employer to fax you a signed copy of the student’s permission before proceeding.

When students apply to graduate and professional schools, it is common for faculty members or supervisors to write general letters of reference in support of a candidate’s application. Reference letters are also common for students in the School of Education who apply for teaching positions. It is also possible that a student may request a general reference letter from a current supervisor as a way to help distinguish themselves from other candidates. In all instances, we encourage you to consider if you can write a letter in strong support of the candidate’s application before agreeing to write a reference letter.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers has compiled a variety of information relating to providing references, including:
• An Introduction to Writing Reference Letters and guidelines for reference givers
• Legal considerations
• Sample employer reference letter

Students pursuing graduate school may ask you to write a letter outlining their capacity for graduate school study. For samples of letters written for a graduate school admissions audience please visit the following resource:

If students are asking you questions about graduate school, please refer them to Academic Advising.

The University of Puget Sound partners with, a reference file service. Students may elect to open an account with Interfolio (for a nominal annual fee) to house reference letters. Letter writers may open accounts (no fee) and upload reference letters on behalf of students. Please visit Interfolio for additional information.