Picking people who will act as your references for your postgraduate program application is a vital part of the process.
There are lots of different aspects of how the reference might be used that you need to consider before choosing people who will provide you with a brilliant reference.
Here we give you the lowdown on how to make sure you choose the right postgraduate reference and then help make sure theyr'e properly prepared for the job!
Choose someone who knows you well
Finding someone to provide a reference for you can be tricky. Start by going through people who know you well in a professional capacity. Think about your tutors or lecturers with whom you have a good relationship with. Ideally, you want to have a couple of referees who know you from different places. So, another reference could be from a work placement, current employment or volunteer work that you've done.
Approach your potential referee in plenty of time
You will probably want to spend a good amount of time completing your application and you'll want to give your references a similar amount of time. It's usual to give a reference about two months' notice. As soon as you know you want to apply for postgraduate study you should start on contacting your references. The more time you give your potential referees the better.
Make sure they are relevant to the course you are applying to study
Ideally, you should choose references who are relevant to the course that you are applying for. If you've done some relevant work experience or volunteer work, then you should choose someone who was your superior. Alternatively, if you have been working and your course is directly related to your career, then getting your boss's support and an excellent reference will add strength to your application. For postgraduate study you'll find that academic references are more important than previous employers, so concentrate on finding academic staff who know your academic work well.
Check what sort of reference you need
Check whether you need to provide an academic, professional or personal referee and make sure you provide what is needed. Read carefully through the application guidelines and seek advice from the course directors or administrators when you're completing your application. If the course is oversubscribed, then any mistakes you make like choosing the wrong type of referees will make your application less likely to be successful, so make sure you follow the guidelines.
Make their life easy by giving them a guide to what you need
Read through what your referee is supposed to supply, and when you are speaking with the person you want to act as your referee make sure you give them a rundown of what they'll need to do. If it's a form, then there is no harm in filling in the basic details before you send it to them and allow your referee to complete the rest of the form. Check with the institution that your academic reference is based at about their own guidelines for supplying references as well. Follow up your request with an email detailing what they need to do and make everything as easy as you can for your referee.