Don’t underestimate the importance of using references to land your dream job. Your resume and cover letter are your chance to tell potential employers how wonderful you are. If they impress the employer, you’ll get a chance to say even more about yourself and your great qualities at the job interview. But at some point, employers are going to want to find out how other people feel about you.
This is where your references will come into play. A potential employer will ask you to supply them with a list of references so they can speak to other people about your past work experience, education, and personal traits to find out if you are the right person for the job.
How to Use Refernces
Your references should be displayed on a separate sheet of paper from your resume unless the employer specifically states otherwise. When choosing your references, make sure to stick primarily to academic and professional ones as opposed to personal/character references. You should pick people that you feel are most qualified to speak about you in a favorable way.
Unless otherwise specified by the employer, it is a good idea to provide an employer with a range of references so that they can get a feel for who you are. Some people you might use include superiors, subordinates, professors, and colleagues. Select people that will be able to validate and reinforce what you have stated in your resume and cover letter. For instance, your direct supervisor would have inside information on your performance in specific situations and projects.
How Many to Use
Most companies require at least three references. If possible, aim for having four or five. The most important references are generally your superiors. If possible, include at least two previous employers as references. In contacting your previous bosses, potential employers are looking for information about the contribution you made to the company. Subordinates and colleagues should emphasize your ability as a team player, innovator, and collaborator.
Once you decide on your references, make sure to ask them if they are willing to do so. You don’t want to add them to your reference list and forget to ask them … that could end up being disastrous to your job search. When asking for a reference, it is best to ask the person face-to-face. Regardless of their decision, make sure to thank them. If they have declined, you can ask them as to why and for constructive feedback.
Lastly, when writing up your reference sheet, you should include your reference’s name, position title, place of work, address, and contact details. Never put your references as part of your resume. If an employer asks for your references to be provided as part of your application, then you should attach them on a separate piece of paper.
How do you choose your references? Do you have any tips for other job seekers? Comment and share below! As always, if you need additional help, reach out to Candace to learn more!