Referrals and References

As a faculty member, you are probably asked to serve as a reference for your students from time to time during their job and graduate school search. Be aware of the legal principles involved in providing referrals and references to employers.
Professor with a student

Tips for Providing References and Referrals

  • Prior to providing a reference, obtain written consent from your student.
  • You are encouraged to provide only “necessary” information. This includes dates of employment, salary information, and position.
  • Avoid “off the record” discussions with prospective employers regarding a person’s performance.
  • If you are unaware that the job applicant has named you as a reference, ask the prospective employer for verification.
  • Provide only factual information, based upon personal knowledge or observation through direct contact with the person or obtained from the person’s personnel record or student record.
  • Relate the reference to the specific position for which the person applied and the work that the applicant will perform.
  • Do not provide subjective statements or opinions; provide only factual information that can be substantiated.
  • Maintain uniformity with referrals.

(Adapted from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE),
© 2013)

Other Resources

SPU Faculty Guide for Referring Students

If an employer calls you about an open job or internship and asks you to refer qualified students for the position, take the following steps to avoid unnecessary legal liability for SPU or yourself:

  • Immediately forward information on the position to the Center for Career and Calling at The CCC will post the position for all students to see in Handshake, our online job and internship posting system. The opportunity must be posted for all students to see, whether you refer particular students or not. Failure to do so is a violation of Equal Opportunity standards and can have legal implications for SPU or for you.
  • After sending the position to CCC for posting, notify any students you believe are particularly well suited to the position, and encourage them to apply.
  • Never refer a student without obtaining that student’s permission for the referral.
  • Be aware of EEO standards. Be careful not to refer students of only one gender or one ethnicity. Be sure you’re considering objective, job-relevant qualifications for the job, not your personal favorites.
  • If you regularly refer students to employers, you may be found to be “acting as an employment agency” and therefore subject to EEO regulations.
Pat Parsons

Why I Work at SPU

Pat Parsons, Program Manager

“I work at SPU because of the richness and diversity of the community, the character of SPU students, faculty, and staff, and the many opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth available to all. It is a particular joy to serve, support, and collaborate with my colleagues in the Center for Career and Calling — a team of gifted, hard-working, fun-loving, compassionate people who consistently put the needs of our students and alumni first, helping them discover their calling and launch fulfilling careers.”