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How To Use References in Your Jobsearch

How To Use References in Your Jobsearch

March 8, 2018

It is true that providing references is a key part of the application process. A list of strong references is a great way to demonstrate your qualifications for a position. However, you do NOT put references directly onto your resume. You should create a separate Reference Sheet and provide it when requested or at the time of interview. The reason that the custom of placing references directly on the resume was phased out years ago, is because at the very first contact, you are supposed to be evaluated for what you know…not who you know. Also, the time-worn tradition of placing the phrase, “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of your resume has fallen out of favor. Generally, it is assumed that you would gladly provide references when and if requested, so stating the obvious is not considered good style.

As difficult as it is to believe, a recent CareerBuilder survey found that 62% of employers received negative feedback from the references provided by jobseekers themselves! About one-third said they actually discovered fake references supplied by candidates. In fact, 70% of employers changed their minds about candidates after checking their references. When you do supply a list of references, here are some guidelines to consider

  • First, contact your references prior to submitting their names in order to weed out any potential surprises. Remember, people like to be asked… and when speaking with them you can remind them of your strengths. You can also provide them with an updated copy of your resume.
  • By contacting your references in advance, you will be, at least in part, exercising the First Commandment of Job Searching, “Thou Shall Network.”
  • In most cases, you should list from four to six references. The most powerful references are from past employers who supervised you. However, it can be helpful to include high profile professionals who know you well and can vouch for your character.
  • When listing references, put their names and professional titles, the companies or institutions they are or were associated with, and although physical addresses are less and less important, cell phone numbers and email addresses are highly recommended.

Don’t forget to send a tasteful “thank you” note to your references. Consider sending an email. Show your references that you appreciate their help in your job search.

New Orleans native Grant Cooper is Founder & President of Strategic Resumes®. Grant recently won the 2015 Career Directors International President’s Award at the CDI national conference in Orlando, FL. He has appeared as a career expert on CBS, ABC & FOX TV, and has fulfilled contracts for the U.S. Air Force, Kinko’s, the Louisiana Dept. of Labor, the City of New Orleans, the NFL, the NBA, as well as universities, regional banks, celebrities, and major corporations nationwide. Email Grant: gc@resupro.com