When and How to Use Them

Be Prepared
When a prospective employer asks for references, you will want to have a list prepared in advance. The goal of providing character references is different depending upon which side of the interview table you are sitting on. Your goal is to provide a list of contacts specifically for the purpose of advancing your chances of receiving a job offer. It is best if they are in careers related to your own, but it isn't essential. Why is it best? If they are in a related field, they will be better able to confirm your ability to do your work well.

The hiring manager's goal is to receive a list of individuals who can confirm your background including your skill set and accomplishments, your work ethic and even your reliability.

Get Approval
Be sure to contact your references prior to listing them to obtain their permission for inclusion in your job search materials. If you do not get their approval, do not list them.

You should list their name, job title, address, phone number and, if possible, their email address. Be sure to ask them if they prefer you use their home or work contact information. Just remember, the easier it is to contact them, the better it will be for you. Sometimes it can be helpful to identify your relationship to the other person, but that is a judgment call. If you do explain how you know them, keep it short and sweet, such as: family friend, co-worker, former supervisor, neighbor, etc.

Confirm Feedback
You would expect everyone to provide you with glowing remarks, but many people are not comfortable with providing information about others and end up giving a poor testimonial. They want to make you look good, but just don't know how to go about it.

One way to prevent this from happening is to coach your contacts in what to say. Let them know (that you have read) that sometimes people get tongue-tied or forget important details about the person they are providing information for and you want to help them -- to make it easier on them.

Offer to email them a brief character summary along with a copy of your resume. Be sure to change the wording in each character summary so it will not appear that all of your references are reading cue cards.

The Details
When you provide a list of references to a prospective employer, ensure the paper and font you use are the same for the resume and cover letter you already provided to them. It offers additional confirmation that you are detail-oriented, conscientious, focused and organized.

Do not list your personal or professional contacts on your resume, nor should you include them in your initial contact with the prospective employer. Supply them when they are requested.

When others say the right things about you, it can be a boost to your chances of landing a great job. Help yourself achieve success by helping your friends and co-workers say the right things about you.

If you would like to see how a recent college graduate listed her references, click the link below. You can use the same format.

Example of References List

For more information about creating an outstanding resume, click here and Boost Your Resume 

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