I have master degrees in applied math and statistics, and am looking for jobs in statistics and biostatistics. I am reading this site, which says:

In either your cover letter or C.V., list the names of your references, giving their addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, assuming they have agreed to this. I also advise having letters of recommendation sent immediately, rather than waiting for the search committee to request this.

The same can be said of sending academic transcripts.

I was wondering if the two practices are indeed helpful?

  1. At what point do I need to have the references ready in general: when sending out my resume and cover letter, before interview, or after interview? I haven't figured out who will be willing to serve as my references. Nor have I contacted any professor yet. I am actually a PhD student failing my qualify exam and have to leave the program, and I am not sure how much support I will find from my professors.
  2. Also how about sending transcripts along with resumes? Now I only have unofficial ones, and do most employers like to have transcripts and even official ones?

4 Answers 4


Yes prepare the letters of reference and make sure the contact information for them is good. HR won't even look at them until they get past a certain point in the process. Unless the letter of recommendation is from an awesome reference it is not even necessary to mention that you have them in either the resume or the cover letter. HR assumes you have some, and that they put you in the best light possible.

If your work history is short, then the academic transcript might be required to prove that you have that degree. The unofficial one might be the only one you need. If they want an official one it will have to be generated by the university and sent to the employer. That will also mean that if they want to see it, it will be later in the process.

References can can be both from work and college professors. For a BS degree there might not be very many professors that will remember you due to some class sizes being in the hundreds. For the MS and PHD programs pick one or two that remember you, and you did well in their class or with their project.

You earned the BS and the MS so why worry about the PHD problems. That doesn't invalidate the earlier work unless the reason was because of cheating or some other fire-able offense.

  • Thanks! 1) About the references, shall I prepare letters which doesn't address any particular employer, or just give the contact information of the references to an employer who will ask for it? I am worried that my references, if I can find any, will not be willing to help me if there are too many employers contacting them . 2) How many references shall I prepare? 3) Yes, I don't have working history. Is it better to send my unofficial transcripts together with my resume and cover letter, even if the transcripts are not asked for?
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 3:30
  • 1
    You can't ask most people to keep writing letters of reference every time you apply for a job, you might have to apply dozens of times to find a job. So go for a generic letter. If HR want more details they will contact the reference. Three letters should be enough. The transcripts should not be sent with the resume unless they ask for it. Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 10:49
  • Thanks, mhoran_psprep! What kind of form and format shall I ask my referees to write a reference letter in? Since one letter will be used in multiple occasions, can it be electronic, and I can print as many copies as needed? Also that means I don't need to waive to right to see the content of the reference letters, right?
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 14:54
  • you are over thinking this. electronic is fine. They contents don't have to be hidden from you. Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 14:56

While there are exceptions, I'm going to say, in general no. According to AskAManager,who actually does hiring, consider the following:

  • You don't want to annoy or wear out your good references. The hiring manager knows that you will have them, and will ask for them when they want them. Have the available for the hiring manager, and contact your references to let them know they may be contacted.
  • You don't want to waste space on the cover letter with references when you could be using that valuable introduction to say why you'd be a good choice for that particular job.
  • Go ahead and have the letters of reference, but the hiring manager will want to actually speak to your references. The letters were written, at least in part, for you, and are something that they know you see. The conversation between the hiring manager and your reference can be more honest, and impart nuances that the letters don't. Hiring managers know this.
  • Have an unofficial copy of your transcripts, for if they request it. If they need an official copy, you can get that when needed (usually from the college directly to the employer). Once you have experience, they will usually not care about transcripts (although they still may want to verify your degrees).

So, have a good resume and a compelling cover letter. If you can catch their interest in the 15-30 seconds they spend on that, you can offer the rest when they speak to you. Without that good resume and cover letter, they're not going to spend any time on anything else you include. They don't expect it at this point either.


Have references available to call upon, but do NOT give them out when applying for a job. There are a couple of reasons for this in addition to the good ones already mentioned above:

  1. You want to engage in a dialog with the hiring manager so that you can highlight your skills and abilities, your interest in the position, and show how you are a good fit for the job. If you give away everything in the first interaction, the dialog doesn't get a chance to start. After all, what is the point of them to come back to ask for more information? They will assume they have everything they need.
  2. I have references that know me in different contexts; I might choose to use one reference for one job and another reference for a different job. I might not know which one to use until after I have already have interviewed with the company.
  3. I want my references to be prepared for being contacted. I tell them the company I interviewed with, the names of the people (hiring manager, HR rep) and a description of the position. They now have some context in which to talk about me in the best way possible. If I forgot to mention something in the interview, I can ask a reference to bring it up for me ("By the way, Jeff is really good at..."). I can ask a reference to highlight a particular strength of mine if I think it needs to be emphasized.



from someone who job hops alot and is in the IT industry where references tend to be checked. Do not send references until they ask for them. You don't want them bugging your friends too many times. The only people who check references before an interview are contract companies, however, make them ASK for them first. Your first priority is to be considerate to the people giving references. You may want them to do it again.


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