Job Reference Guide

Before you go in for an interview, you must always have a list of job references on hand. It is absolutely vital that you have contacts of people who can offer other employers a great recommendation.

During your job search, you are probably getting so caught up in taking the time to build your resume and cover letter that it is easy to forget about having job references. In fact, this is ultimately a very crucial part of the job searching process because employers, especially during this economic time, will likely call and check your references to make certain that you are the right fit for their company.

When employers are calling your references, they are asking a variety of questions in relation to your work ethic. It can be a range of inquiries regarding your skills, accomplishments, how you deal with clients to your knowledge of the particular industry, ability to work in a diverse environment, and even if you are rehirable. These questions can vary, and it is all relating to your potential future within their organization.

Understand the value of choosing the best references. One bad recommendation can really cost you. So, before listing some names on your job reference page, think and carefully choose 3-4 people whom you've worked with professionally or who know your sense of work ethic.

Here are some people to consider:

  • Managers
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Human Resources professionals
  • Those in a higher position than you
  • Partners from affiliated companies
  • Clients (if you've had a long business relationship with them)
  • Organization leaders (for example, the president of your Marketing Association)
  • Community Service leaders (if you've done consistent volunteer work for them)

Do not list boyfriends/girlfriends, parents, other family members, friends, therapists, personal trainers, or anyone else in your personal life.

Job Reference Tip #1: Always ask before you use someone as a job reference.

When employers call your contact person of choice, it could overwhelm them if they do not know in advance that you are job searching. You want to let them know ahead of time and ask politely, so they can be prepared on what to say about you.

I have conducted background checks before on job candidates, and when calling up their references, I surprisingly received a lot of responses about how they had no idea that they were placed as a reference. It is simply etiquette that you ask and make sure that they are aware.

And, in addition to figuring out which of your colleagues to consider, you may come across one or two rejections. Do not feel discouraged if someone actually does not want to serve as a reference. After all, it is a professional reference, not a personal one. They may just feel that someone else will be able to capitalize on your accomplishments better. And some people don't feel comfortable at all being a job reference because they are afraid of how they'll be approached. Just simply thank them anyway for considering, then move on, and find someone else.

How to Create Your Job Reference Page

While the job searching process can be hectic, you may be glad to hear that building your reference page is the fastest part. However, it is important to acknowledge this next tip...

Job Reference Tip #2: Do NOT place your references on your resume. You are to create a separate page for this.

You want to use the same heading displayed on your resume where you have your contact information at the top. Then just label this section "References", and type out contact information for each person you have chosen.

Use their full name, title of position, and the company they work for. Be sure you have current phone numbers, emails, and business addresses.

List 3-4 people to serve as your references.

Click here to see a job reference example.