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I have heard that it is a good practice or even necessary to ask for our potential referees' permission before we include their contact details in our CVs. Is it also a good practice to keep them informed about which positions we are applying for and the status of each of these applications? Is it good or necessary to update them how each of our application went, whether rejected or invited for an interview, or should we be selective?

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  • Just to clarity, a number of the initial answers seem to be assuming that the referee will be required to write a recommendation letter; in my area/country, it is more common to be listed on a CV and to receive a phone call from the recruiter where the applicant is discussed. What does your question apply to? Apr 18 '15 at 2:23
  • @Jeromy I am applying worldwide, was expecting and have seen both approaches used so far.
    – adipro
    Apr 18 '15 at 6:02
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Asking for permission before giving anyone's contact details in a CV as a potential reference should go without saying. Both for their sake and for yours. You want to be sure they can write you a good, relevant recommendation for the position(s) you are applying for, and presuming that someone has the time to write a recommendation letter without asking them is just rude.

I don't think it's possible to write really excellent recommendation letters without knowing where you are applying. At the very least, they would need to know whether the schools you are applying to are liberal arts schools or R1 schools, to know how to focus the letter. If they are familiar with a department or someone working in a department where you are applying, the letter could (if they have the time / inclination) be tailored even more.

I've always been told that it's good etiquette to inform anyone who wrote you a recommendation letter for anything what happened to the application. A quick email or note (or even stopping by their office) to say thank you again and tell them where you will be going next year, even if it's not to the place they wrote the recommendation letter for is the polite thing to do.

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  • Is it good or necessary to update them how each of our application went, whether rejected or invited for an interview, or should we be selective?
    – adipro
    Apr 18 '15 at 6:08
  • @adipro It depends on how many recommendations they provide. If it's just one or two, you could tell them about each application. If it's more than that, I would just tell them the major things (interviewing at place X, Y and Z, decided on place X).
    – user141592
    Apr 18 '15 at 14:41
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I would suggest letting them know about at least the places that you are really interested with and why, so they can tailor their letters. I don't think you need to report the status.

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