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RandomUsername2

How specific do requests for references need to be?

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I'm in the process of asking various faculty members to be references as I apply for jobs (both postdocs and industry jobs). So far, I've basically just been asking people are willing to be references in general. Many jobs just require that I give contact information for references. My first question is: do I need to ask/inform my potential references ahead of time about each job I apply to so they know who they may be getting a call from? Or do I need to tell them at least what types of positions I'm applying to (e.g., industry research scientist, academic postoc, etc.)? Or is it enough just to get their assent to list them as a reference?

Secondly, for reference letters, it seems most employers want me to have them send a reference letter directly. Are these letters supposed to be highly specific to the position I'm applying to? Part of why I ask is that, inasmuch as they are, I would be somewhat hesitant about applying to lots of positions, as it would be rather burdensome for my reference letter writers. Or, if the letters are fairly general, should I just give my letter writers a list of email addresses (and some information about associated positions)? 

Thanks.

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On 4/2/2019 at 5:51 PM, RandomUsername2 said:

I'm in the process of asking various faculty members to be references as I apply for jobs (both postdocs and industry jobs). So far, I've basically just been asking people are willing to be references in general. Many jobs just require that I give contact information for references. My first question is: do I need to ask/inform my potential references ahead of time about each job I apply to so they know who they may be getting a call from? Or do I need to tell them at least what types of positions I'm applying to (e.g., industry research scientist, academic postoc, etc.)? Or is it enough just to get their assent to list them as a reference?

Secondly, for reference letters, it seems most employers want me to have them send a reference letter directly. Are these letters supposed to be highly specific to the position I'm applying to? Part of why I ask is that, inasmuch as they are, I would be somewhat hesitant about applying to lots of positions, as it would be rather burdensome for my reference letter writers. Or, if the letters are fairly general, should I just give my letter writers a list of email addresses (and some information about associated positions)? 

Thanks.

1) IT would be better to inform your potential references ahead. This way, you can be sure they won't just hang up when a person they don't know calls them with different questions. Additionally, they will be prepared to tell only the relevant information. This way, you have more chances that they won't forget anything important.

2) Reference letters can be pretty general, just explaining what kind of student you were, what were you doing during college and showing some academic achievements. These letters don't need to be tailored toward every job application you make.

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