Which References Can Better Help You Get That Higher Education Position?

All job applications ask for references. But there are two sources an employer can draw from. One is contacts the employer can reach out and learn about you. These can be from your Facebook and other public social media pages you post or even from people that they know at your school. The second is from the references you provide when seeking a higher education position.

With respect to your social media postings, keep your personal life personal and your professional life professional!

The references you provide should be people who can provide you with a competitive edge to get that academic position.  Who do you know that is a "major influencer" in your field that you have worked with? Who do you know at the school where you are seeking employment who is familiar with your abilities? These are the best types of references to use.

If you have been working in your field, include people for whom you have reported to and who can speak favorably about your capabilities. If you have worked on a committee, perhaps for a professional society or organization related to your work, find someone that can speak favorably about your skills.

For those who have just started your academic career, your best references may be the Dean of your school or the department chairperson.

Understand that whoever you are considering, ask their permission to use their name as a reference and provide a brief background about the position you are seeking. You do not want these people to get that phone call and say "Who is this person?" nor do you want the reference to send the wrong message about your goals and objectives.

Always keep your references up to date about your abilities and desires, even with a short bio, because they may one day get a phone call asking "Who do you know that can do (whatever you do best)" and you want them to be able to recommend you for that opportunity!

Rich Gerstin is the founder of The Asheforde Group and is the head of math department at Brown Mackie College, Atlanta.

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