I'm often asked to write references - and now so many are on LinkedIn, recommendations too.
I'm willing to help, but if you're thinking of asking then here's how you can help yourself first. Here's what I need if I'm to write an informed and positive reference or recommendation:
- I need a clear recollection of you, and something memorable to write about. (This sounds like my memory problem, but there are several things you can do to help me.)
- I would hope to have had some connection with you since we worked together, or since I taught you. (I'm not asking for Christmas cards - some connection on social media should be sufficient. I love career updates and even maintain a blog to record your achievements.)
Smart students already view their lecturers as potential mentors, not just as teachers. But most don't yet realise that although we may only have limited power (of awarding grades), we may have surprising influence in terms of workplace recommendations and connections.
On the day we learn about record levels of youth unemployment, I would like more students and graduates to appreciate this mentor role and get over the pupil-teacher relationship.