Job References Do’s and Don’ts

A question a person seeking employment commonly asks is “Will the employer really check my references?”  It is not safe to assume they will not.  In today’s highly competitive job market, it is a strong possibility they will check.  Most businesses and corporations consider it to be a critical part of the hiring process. However, you should not include your references in your resume.

Here are some job references do’s and don’ts!

You do not want to risk a recruiter or hiring manager reaching out to your references prematurely or without permission.  It is advisable to guard your references’ time and contact information as if it were your own. Fielding too many calls could make them think twice about offering their experiences working with you. To avoid this, keep your references noted on a separate document and send them along only when asked.

Ask your contacts if you have permission to use them as references before giving their information to potential employers. It certainly would be awkward if you listed a reference who did not feel comfortable recommending you. People are more likely to give positive feedback if they are not caught off guard and are given time to think about their response.

Your reference list might not just include past supervisors, co-workers or junior employees you have managed. Skip the personal references unless you are specifically asked for them. A professional reference can attest to both your character and your work dedication.

Get complete contact information. Some hiring managers prefer to call references, while others will simply ask a few questions via email. Make sure you give comprehensive contact information, including email and phone number. You should note the details of your relationship (boss, colleague, direct report) with a reference, and the company where you worked together, so the hiring manager or recruiter can decide which people are most relevant.

Be sure to personalize. Each prospective employer may look for something different in references (personal, professional, co-worker, and boss), so be sure to include contacts that fit their request.

Make a master list of 10 or more potential references from your file of colleagues, bosses, direct reports, clients, and personal acquaintances. When it’s time to prepare your references, give your potential employer three to five of the most relevant.

As time passes, it is imperative to update your list to contacts who have worked with you more recently. A boss you had 10 years ago may not remember you well enough to give a strong reference, let alone be able to speak on your performance. Recent references from your past two jobs are standard. Also make sure the contact information you have is still accurate each time you send it out. For example, your former boss may no longer work with the same company. Be sure to find out before you give erroneous contact information to a potential employer.

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“The Ins and Outs of Providing References.” – On Careers ( N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2012.