Quick Reference Guide to Your References

Eight Simple Rules for Rockin’ References

1)      They do NOT belong on your resume. (Have them on a separate document including: minimum 3 professional contacts, possibly 3 personal, and all should have phone number, email, how you know that person (“relationship” – former co-worker, former client, etc.) and for how long.  Addresses may be required so have that available somewhere, too, just in case.

2)      Always ask someone first before using them as a reference.  Surprise factor & awkward “Ummm”ing and excuses to get off the phone, unreturned contacts, etc. will NOT help you win the new job – or keep up your network.  Some folks may WANT to help you, but won’t be allowed by their employer remember, so ask even if you know they’d recommend you if they could.

3)      Contact your references ahead of the interview to give them the heads up. Call ahead of time, some employers call your references before you even get home from the interview! Give your references the job title & general duties so they are prepared for the phone call when it comes. You can even supply your references with information you’d like them to share with the potential employers.  Many people appreciate getting some direction from you on what they should say. And, most employers will be impressed if your references say “Oh, good, I’ve been expecting you, Sara told me you would be calling.”


4)      Make sure your references have a copy of your resume (same reasons as above – they’ll be better prepared)

5)      Remember to ask them to post a recommendation for you on LinkedIn, too.  Do this BEFORE you’re job searching in earnest, or the updates may alert your current employer you are looking!

6)      Have a variety of professional references, not just former bosses, but colleagues/peers and clients, too, if possible.  These give a more well rounded perspective on you & your abilities.

7)      Stay in touch with your references.  The only time they hear from you shouldn’t be when you need this favor.  Try as you can to offer them something in return – send a useful article, offer to be a peer or subordinate reference for them, right them a recommendation on LinkedIn, etc.  Think win-win!

and last but not least ….

8)  You REALLY don’t need (shouldn’t put) “References available upon request” on your resume.  They know that.  Save the space for sharing accomplishments instead.