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Credentials Service


The Credentials Service is available to all undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni of The College of New Jersey, who wish to establish an official file of letters of reference for use in applying for employment and/or graduate and professional school.

Establishing a credentials file with The Career Center is a convenient way to consolidate the process of providing employers or graduate and professional schools with letters of reference. Your file will be held for a five year period, regardless of whether or not you keep it active.

In establishing your credentials file, you must decide whether or not you will waive your right of access. What does it mean to “waive your right of access?” The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 gives you the legal right to waive or not to waive access to your letters of reference.

If you do not waive your right to a particular reference, the letter is accessible to you upon request. If you waive your right of access to a reference, you CANNOT read or obtain a copy of the letter. Under provisions of the law, the The Career Center is not permitted to review or divulge any part of the letters of reference to which you have waived access. Confidential references MUST remain confidential following graduation.This services involves completion of the following forms.


How do I establish a credentials file?

A credentials file may be established by completing and returning the Registration Form to The Career Center. Next, complete the upper half of the Credential Services Recommendation Form, distribute it to the people you choose to be references. For the convenience of the person supplying the reference, it is recommended you provide the individual with a stamped envelope addressed to The Career Center.

What materials may be contained in my credentials file?

You may keep 3-5 letters of reference in your file. Education majors may include a student teacher evaluation. Additional information will include the Registration and Consent to Disclose to Third Parties form. Transcripts are not a part of the credentials file.

Should I waive my right of access?

The decision whether to waive your right of access is a matter of personal choice. When you waive your right of access, the writer is assured that you will not read what has been written. Give careful consideration to the pros and cons before making a decision regarding your access to letters of reference. In making this decision, you must weigh the value of the employer or admissions officer receiving a confidential letter, against your relinquishing the right to view letters written about you. Career counselors are available to help with your decision making.

Upon written request, you may, at any time, have a reference in your file destroyed.

Who should I ask to write a letter of reference?

Choose professionals or past employers with whom you have shared a good relationship; those who know you, your interests and your abilities, and can comment on your potential as a student or employee. Consider the following:

  • A professor familiar with your academic and/or general ability
  • A supervisor from a work experience closely related to your career interests
  • Other professionals familiar with your academic qualifications, work experience, and extra-curricular activities

For each person who agrees to write a letter of reference for you, it is helpful to:

  • Make an appointment to meet with the individual about to write a reference.
  • Give your reference a copy of your resumé and a short statement of your career goals.
  • Provide a copy of your college transcript or a list of courses in which you have received an “A” or “B”.
  • Describe significant honors, awards, and achievements.
  • Provide your reference with any relevant forms and instructions.
  • Highlight any important or unusual instructions.
  • Everyone is busy. Establish a reasonable time when the reference will be able to complete the reference and return to The Career Center.

How do I know my letters have arrived at The Career Center?

After a reasonable time, (3-5 days from the time agreed upon) check with The Career Center to see whether or not all your references have arrived. If they have not been received, follow-up with the person from whom you requested the reference.

How do I send my references to employers and/or graduate and professional schools?

To send your references to employers and/or graduate and professional schools, complete the Request for Mailing Credentials File Form enclosed in your credentials packet. If you do not have a copy of this form, provide a written request that includes your full name, address, telephone number, social security number, class year, and the full name and address of the person to receive the file.

The Career Center cannot honor telephone requests received directly from the employer or graduate admissions office. To ensure confidentiality, the Career Center must receive written requests, directly from you, that include your signature.

Requests will be processed within five working days. Please plan ahead!

May I hand deliver my file?

You may hand deliver letters if you have not waived your right of access.

Under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Career Center staff cannot allow waived letters of reference to be hand carried from the office. You may ONLY hand deliver letters of reference if you have not waived you right of access.

In the case of an emergency (e.g., 24-hour deadline for the file to reach an employer and/or admissions officer) The Career Center will fax your file, upon written request.

You may receive a personal copy of those materials to which you have retained your right of access.

Do I have to send all of my letters or may I select?

You may select which letters from your file are used. Please indicate the letters of reference you want sent on the Request For Mailing Credentials form or in your written request.

Should I send letters to employers prior to their requesting them?

Generally this is not advisable. When employers are ready to review your references they will request that you have them sent. Sending them prior to being requested to do so can compromise your candidacy.

Sending your credentials when requested demonstrates your respect for the interview process, allows you to retain control of which references you send, and keeps you abreast of where the employer stands regarding your candidacy.

Request to send in excess of ten sets of credentials at any one time must be approved by a counselor at The Career Center.

What fees are associated with the credentials file?

As of 2015, all credential services are free of charge to TCNJ undergraduates, graduates, and alumni.