I graduated from college in July, and I need to get someone to be a job reference. I have one from a previous job, but I need a second one. The recruiter indicated that I could use a professor with whom I'd taken a class as a reference.

I've contacted my former faculty advisor, who informed me that as a general rule, department faculty prefers not to be references for people who have only taken one class with them. In other words, the professor who is most likely to agree to be a reference is a professor with whom I have taken at least two classes.

Unfortunately, there is only one professor I can think of that meets the criteria I described, and said professor is retired.

How should I contact him?


2 Answers 2


Try sending a nice e-mail! Us retired faculty still exist and writing strong letters of recommendation does not come to a full stop instantly. In any event, it does not hurt to ask. The professor’s e-mail address may be on their department’s web site, if you do not have it already. Best of success!

By the way, that “general rule” you mention may be more like “parlay” in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie: not a real thing all that much. In any event, individual faculty members decide for themselves if they want to write letters of recommendation: they are not in trouble if they do so. And retired faculty have even more freedom: we are free range!

  • 3
    The university gave him an @x.edu address for official communication with students, which, as far as I can tell, is still registered to him. Would it be safe to use this e-mail address, or should I look for a different e-mail address to use?
    – moonman239
    Oct 4, 2021 at 21:53
  • 1
    I think so: mine is of that form. If he decides to write you a strong letter of recommendation, please make it as easy as possible by sending him your updated resume/vita and giving him some highlights you would especially like emphasized. One nice thing is that students cannot really boast about accomplishments, but professors can do that, and do it effectively, having read and written many such letters.
    – Ed V
    Oct 4, 2021 at 22:17
  • Just to be absolutely clear: This is not necessarily for a letter of recommendation. I'm seeking permission to list him as a reference on job applications (and I told the professor as such)
    – moonman239
    Oct 5, 2021 at 0:19
  • 5
    "We are free range!" <--- I've never looked forward to retiring before!
    – user96809
    Oct 5, 2021 at 1:20
  • 8
    @Araucaria Indeed, but there is a problem with retirement I never expected: time flies faster than when not retired! So all those soul-sapping committee meetings and such were actually keeping Time from going by too fast. Kind of a rip-off.
    – Ed V
    Oct 5, 2021 at 1:25

To more directly answer your question, if you don't have a contact for them or you're not certain if it works, ask the department to contact them on your behalf!

Something like

Good temporal greeting,

I am a former student of XYZ, but I'm not sure if their email [email protected] is still valid, is there an appropriate account I can contact them at, or would you please help them contact me?

Specifically, I'd like to request a letter of recommendation for a job and also to reconnect.



It would imo be unusual for any retired professional not to occasionally assist or be interested in their area of expertise, and professors are no exception - it's likely that if they remember and you both got on well that they'd be delighted to oblige any such small request, and also have more (arguably) spare time each day since retiring

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .