Using References Effectively in Your Job Search

By Staff

References are a critical part of any job search. They provide a potential employer with information about your past work history, your skills, and abilities.

There are a few things to keep in mind to use references effectively.

Who Should Be a Reference?

It's best to have a range of people you worked with at a previous job. You want to ask someone you worked with closely, like a colleague or a team member, and others that you worked for, like supervisors and managers.

Most interviewers will want work references only. Aim for at least 4 references and add a few as backups in case any of those can't be reached.

Of course, you'll want to ask people that will be positive about their work experience with you. Ask those you had a good working relationship with, those who have a good idea of the work you did, and those you got along well with.

Make Sure You Ask Permission:

You want to ask people you are considering using as references if they can assist you in your job search. By being courteous and asking their permission, you will likely end up with more favourable references. Decide on a few names of people you would like to use as a reference, from a cross-section of those you worked with. It's also a good idea to provide these people with a copy of your resume, so they have a good understanding of your job history and have your important information at their fingertips when they are called for a reference.

Have Your List Ready:

There is no need to put your list of references directly on your resume. Instead, adding the line "References available upon request" is a good way to let potential employers that you have a ready list of people who can vouch for your skills.

It will likely be after an interview that your potential employer will ask for a list of references. Have one ready with you that has current and accurate information with references that are ready to speak on your behalf. You can either present it to your interviewer when they request it at the interview, or you can fax or email it as soon as possible.

It's important that your list be thorough and accurate. List the person's name, their relationship to you (ie. manager), their job title, their contact phone numbers and email, etc. Make sure you ask your references which contact information you can list. You don't want to make your references uncomfortable by listing their home number when they would rather be contacted at work, or vice versa.

Stay in Touch:

Let your references know when you go on a job interview and to expect a call. Your references can then be prepared should the interviewer call. They will appreciate the heads-up.

After you've used a reference, thank them. After all, they are assisting you in your job search. And you may need them again in the future.

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