“A leopard does not change his spots.” Most people believe that people can evolve and grow but do not change entirely because their basic values, temperament and judgement are stable qualities. A candidate can look good on paper and be completely charming in the interview, but be a poor fit for the company’s needs because their values, temperament and judgement are in conflict with the requirements of the potential position. A reference helps an employer or a graduate school learn about how the candidate has performed in the past.Continue reading “Students: Understand the purpose of a reference”
References are people who can and will provide an unbiased assessment of your values, temperament, and judgement, based on their past interactions with you.Continue reading “Who should you ask for references?”
Unless the employer is hiring people into a training program, they will be selecting people ready to get work done.
In graduate school, faculty supervisors are looking for the ideal graduate student who creates “negative work”: someone who carries some of the research unit’s workload and does not add more to replace it: they don’t require the supervisor to repeatedly explain to the student how to do things that should be either self-learned or already learned in undergraduate coursework.Continue reading “What do reference recipients want to hear?”
probably quite different from most of the evaluation you have experienced in the past.
This can be a new and unsettling way of thinking about evaluation for you. Through high school, it is pretty obvious when you are being evaluated, because months ahead of time, you are told there is a test on January 25. Next Friday is a test. The test is at 3:00 pm. The test starts now and you have 45 minutes. After the test, you are given your mark. It is almost expected that everyone is treated the same between tests, so that labelling someone a “poor student” does not become a self-fulfilled prophesy.Continue reading “A reference is an evaluation”
There is no such thing as a reference that assures that you will be offered a job or admission to a program. A “good” reference is not an emphatically positive reference that insists that the candidate is the best person to choose. A “good” reference is an accurate reflection of the referee’s impression of you.Continue reading “What IS a “good reference””
The desire to screen your references is understandable and some people would advise that you ask people outright whether they can give you a good reference, but my opinion is that you should not. Some people are uncomfortable and will not answer accurately. More importantly, there is no such thing as a “good” reference, just an honest and unbiased reference from a well-chosen referee. Until the referee receives the questions, it is possible that there will be one that cannot be answered with unconditional praise.Continue reading “It’s a reference, not a recommendation”
Many of the issues that affect the quality of the reference you will get depend on how you govern yourself over the course of your studies, and by the time you ask for the reference, your reputation with that professor may not be, shall we say, ideal for the purpose of getting a “good” reference. Some students seem to be oblivious as they diminish, bit by bit, the reputation they will need later when it is time to ask the professor for a reference. Presuming you do not have a time machine to make repairs when your job search and grad school applications come around, being conscious of your actions as a student will help you later.Continue reading “Make sure you made a good impression as a student”
A professor may not be in a particularly good position to give a meaningful evaluation for jobs, unless you have done work with the professor outside of a course, such as volunteering or work-study projects.Continue reading “Which prof to ask?”
If you have paid careful heed to this advice through your academic years, you stand a good chance that an honest, unbiased reference will be complimentary about your professionalism, attention to detail, intellectual energy, ability to problem solve, set priorities and lead other students, and communicate well and with confidence in both oral and written forms. Now you are ready to approach one or more professors for a reference for employment.Continue reading “How to ask profs for job references”
If you have paid careful heed to this advice through your academic years, you stand a good chance that an honest, unbiased reference will be complimentary about your professionalism, attention to detail, intellectual energy, ability to problem solve, set priorities and lead other students, and communicate well and with confidence in both oral and written forms. Now you are ready to approach one or more professors for a reference for graduate school.Continue reading “How to ask profs for grad school references”