Who To Ask For A Reference
Short answer, anyone respectable who can vouch for your ability and character. As a rule of thumb, try to obtain 34 professional references and 12 personal references.
Professional references attest your professional ability. Ask your past superiors and partners to put in a good word for you. It goes without saying that you should never ask for a reference someone less experienced than you.
Personal references can vouch for your character. It can be any esteemed person from your personal life: past teachers, non-profit leaders, instructors, etc. Just make sure you dont include anyone from your family.
But before you even start to contact them, remember that you have to know your references well and be sure that they can give a good feedback.
Think about the people you worked forand worked with. Which of them could speak well of your qualifications, accomplishments and character?
Should I Include References If My Resume Is Too Short
No. Do not include references just to pad a short resume. If youre just starting out in the world, like a high school or college student who hasnt graduated yet, pump up your resume with your academic achievements, summary statement, internships, volunteer work and/or job-related skills. Tell your own story, and dont expect someone else to tell it for you.
Should You Include References On A Resume
The general common practice that the majority of resume experts agree on is that you should NOT add a list of references to your resume.
Because, generally, the HR department doesnt have time to go through every candidates list of references. They have a lot more important things to do than reach out to all the references every single candidate ever provided.
Thats why references arent requested until after your interview has gone well or right before you are hired.
But heres the thing:
Thats not an unshakable no.
If the job description explicitly states that you should include references on your resume, without question, include one!
This is very straightforward on its own, youll know when you see it.
Some consulting firms, for example, tend to ask for testimonials on your performance from previous employers before they hire you.
In this case, it’s best if you do include the contact information of the people providing you with their positive feedback, so the HR can check how legitimate they are.
Every word on your resume should be full of value and quality. References add unnecessary space. Insert them only when required or if youre asked to submit testimonials.
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How Many References To Add To A Resume
Assuming you are using a separate, dedicated references page, the ideal number of references to aim for is between 3 to 4.
In some cases, you may include up to 5 to 6 references, though generally you should limit yourself to a lower number unless specifically requested to do otherwise.
When selecting your 3 to 4 references, it is important to keep a few factors in mind:
- Which references hold the highest prestige in their positions, making their inclusion on a references page notable?
- Which references can provide the most relevant information about your work ethic and skills for the job you are currently applying for?
- Which references do you have the strongest relationships with who will go above and beyond to recommend you to a hiring manager?
When To Include References On A Resume
Every word on your resume should be packed with value. Typically, you have one to two pages to explain why youre qualified and well-positioned for the job, and hiring managers only have a short time to read it.
Because references are not always a part of the interview process, you are taking up limited resume space to provide what may end up being irrelevant to employers in this phase. Even including the phrase references upon request on your resume can be unimportant. If their interview process includes references, employers will ask you to provide them.
There are a few rare scenarios in which including references on your resume may be acceptable. If you are in an industry that accepts case studies or testimonials on the resume, it may be appropriate to include the person and contact information for which these apply.
Additionally, it is acceptable to include references if the job description not only requires you to include references but explicitly states that they should be included directly on your resume. If not, you should include your reference list in a separate document.
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Who To Ask For References If Youre A Seasoned Professional
- Past employers. They can vouch for your work skills, overall performance and describe how you interact with colleagues and supervisors.
- Direct supervisors. They know you the best and can vouch for you when it comes to your transferable skills and work ethic.
- Professional mentors. They have a solid understanding of your personality and receptiveness to training and feedback.
Also, think about the relevancy of your reference. How recent is it? Does it come close to the nature of the job youre applying for today?
Rrecent references should naturally be your first choice. Using someone you worked with years ago as a reference may look like youre trying to hide something.
But if an older reference is more relevant to the job youre applying for now, dont hesitate to put it on your resume regardless of age.
When Should You Put References On A Resume
Including references in your resume used to be more common in the past. Sure, its good to prepare a list of references in advance, but including it in your resume isnt always the best course of action.
But in some specific situations, its still okay to put them on your resume or together with your application. Its not customary but certainly acceptable if:
- The job listing asks for references from the get-go, you should include them without much hesitation.
- Your reference is someone well-known in the company or industry. Sometimes you dont want to wait until the last round of interviews to play your strongest card.
- Youre a fresh graduate. Probably you still dont have enough experience to fill an entire resume. Moreover, as a student, you have no authority yet. Let others do the bragging for you.
- Youre a freelancer. For companies its sometimes hard to find a dependable freelancer. Of course, your portfolio is still the most important of your application, but you should always be ready to provide a list of references from your past clients.
- Theres an employment gap on your resume. Including references on your resume is an effective way to balance out your work gap.
But If none of the above applies to you, dont do it. Its neither customary nor expected. There are several reasons for that:
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Rule #: Add Your Contact Info At The Very Top
Just like you did on your resume, you want to include your contact info at the very top. This includes:
- Your Full Name
- Your relationship + relevant context
I personally like to spice things up with the font. I’ll use a heavy font weight for the name and maybe even bump the size up a notch.
Then I’ll go with the standard weight for everything in the middle, and close out with an unbolded, light weight version of the font to describe the relationship and the context. Again, you can see this in action in the example I shared earlier in the post.
I would also make sure to find a way to differentiate between references. It may sound obvious, but using numbers before names, or adding an extra line break in between references will make it clear where one reference ends and the other begins.
Finally, make sure you proofread your resume references list before you send it to anyone. Using free tools like Grammarly will ensure you never accidentally send your list off with a spelling mistake or a grammatical error you’ll be kicking yourself over.
How Employers Use References
References are more commonly called after your interviews have gone well and the employer is in the final stages of deciding whether or not to offer you the job. For many employers, references are used to confirm many of the positive attributes they observed during the interview and to verify details of your work history that you may have shared. For this reason, they arent typically a part of the application or early interview process.
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What Is A Character Reference On A Resume
A character reference is someone who has spent time with you and can comment on your personality. These references provide an idea of your ethics, how you approach challenges and your general disposition. A character reference does not necessarily need to be someone who you have worked with, but it is professional etiquette to avoid using immediate family members or romantic partners.
Why Are References On A Resume No Longer Used
Sort of like video killed the radio star, we can thank the internet for killing the idea of references on a resume. The short answer is: references on a resume are usually sensitive information and should not be widely distributed due to privacy concerns. Theres also the idea of digital etiquette, which dictates you shouldnt mention people will-nilly, opening them up to unexpected calls and messages.
Before the 1990s, when you couldnt send mail without licking a stamp, resumes were relatively private documents that were printed on paper, enclosed in an envelope and dropped in a mailbox. Sure, a resume might be passed around an office, hand to hand, but this didnt make the references names, addresses or phone numbers accessible to millions.
That all changed with the electronic revolution, which turned resumes into digital documents that actually could be accessible to millions. Today you can post your resume on LinkedIn or any number of other totally public job-search websites. So do you think your old boss would be thrilled to know that youve put his name, title, employer, phone number and email address in front of potentially billions of people? Probably not.
People today are far easier to find and much easier to contact no Pony Express needed. And if employers DO want references, you can send them in a personal email, which unlike a resume does entail a certain expectation of privacy.
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How To Deal With Professional References
Having said all that, great professional references could be the secret sauce that seals the deal. If you were a speechwriter for President Barack Obama, hopefully that would appear somewhere in your employment history, and possibly in your summary. But if your friend Barack has offered to vouch for you to future employers, think twice before you include his private email and personal cellphone on your public resume.
You could include this info in a separate attachment, or even as part of your cover letter. But does it belong in your public resume? Most experts would say no, and Barack Obama would probably agree.
What Are Resume References And Why Are They Important
A resume reference list is essentially a selection of people who can vouch for your professional skills and confirm that youre an awesome employee this company should be excited about.
References usually come into play just before the company extends an offer. The team loved you in the interview and they just want to confirm that what you said lines up with other people you’ve worked with.
When it comes to actually checking, there’s a pretty broad range.
Some companies don’t bother checking references at all, while some might ask you to provide 5 or more.
You’d rather be fully prepared and burn a few extra minutes for nothing rather than be stuck scrambling to find an ex-colleague with a 24 hour turnaround time!
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How To List References
Before you begin your job hunt, gather your references onto a Professional Reference Page. Include each references name, title, organization, phone number, and email address.
List your references starting with your most impressive or important reference.
Dont annotate your application with resume references available upon request. This outdated practice only uses up valuable space and restates something that every hiring manager already knows.
Instead, create a dedicated references page separate from your resume, and attach it to your application.
Next, list each reference like this:
Proper professional references format
Company / University your reference works atFull address of your references company / universityPhone numberEmail address
Never include the personal address of your reference on your reference page, because hiring managers dont contact references via snail mail. Plus your reference may not want you to share their personal information with strangers either.
Underneath each entry on your resumes reference page, you should also make a note clarifying your relationship with the reference, and how long youve known or worked with them.
Finally, if you want to save time formatting your reference page, download our resume references template and fill it in yourself:
Who To Use As A Reference
Many people struggle to decide who to list as their references on their resume.
To help break it down, here are the best people to include on your reference page in order of importance:
If possible, list your current or former boss at the top of your references list. Most employers view supervisors or bosses as the most valuable references, because they have the greatest insight into your work ethic, skills, and professional strengths.
Additionally, consider the following details when choosing the other references on your resume:
- Which of my references are most relevant to the job Im applying for?
- Do I have references that work in the industry Im applying to?
- Which potential reference would best highlight my relevant skills?
- Who is not suited to give me a reference for this particular job?
Can you use a friend as a personal reference?
Generally, you shouldnt include friends as a reference on your resume. The exception is if theyre former colleagues, are currently employed at the company youre applying to, or are a former supervisor. In these cases, listing your friend as a reference is acceptable.
Who to use as a reference if its your first job
For a student or recent graduate, finding an appropriate set of professional references is difficult. So if you lack work experience and have no references, you can list a:
- Guidance counselor
- Family member or friend youve done work for
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Examples Of References On Resumes
Letâs take a look at a few examples of references on resumes to learn more about common mistakes made when crafting a reference and how to correct them.
It is highly important to include the necessary information to contact a reference â just a name and company is not enough. You should always include at least an official business number and an official business email in your references.
When Do You Need References
Employers will typically check your references just before theyre ready to make an offer, Papadopoulos says. Thats why you dont need to provide them when youre first applying for a job. But its a good idea to have them ready to go before you even land an interview.
If a company is ready to hire you pending a reference check, the last thing you want is to be held up by asking people to be a reference or collecting their contact information. Instead, you should have your references ready and keep them updated during your search, Papadopoulos says.
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Create A Specific Reference Page Instead
Now that you have had the interview and obviously made it to the final two or three candidates , the hiring manager may request references. You will want to be prepared so that you can immediately give them what they need to make the hiring decision. If you make them wait a day or two while you scramble to get something together, you may lose your opportunity. Time is precious.
Before you begin a job hunt, gather your references and list them on a Professional Reference Page rather than directly on your resume. Choose professional references such as previous managers, professors, or former colleagues. A hiring manager does not want to hear how great you are from a friend or family member. Remember to include the references name, position title, phone number, and email address. Make sure to get permission from each reference prior to handing over their information.
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How To Make A Separate Resume References List
A separate reference list is a smart alternative to adding references directly to your resume.
In addition to being prepared easily in advance to ensure that you have a reference list handy for any interested employers, they can also be unobtrusively added to your resume should a job posting request them.
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Choose Your References And Contact Them For Approval
The references that you include on your list should be individuals who know you well and will provide positive commentary on your abilities and character.
While the list should ideally focus on professional references from your current or previous places of employment, you can also include former professors or even personal acquaintances. These last two options might be most helpful to students, first-time jobseekers, or those who have been out of the workforce for some time.
Some of the people you might consider reaching out for references include:
Former or current supervisors
Former or current professors
Non-family personal acquaintances that can vouch for your character and abilities
Once you have identified those contacts who will provide the best references, you should reach out to them and ask them if they would be willing to be a possible reference for you. Typically, it is more advisable to ask your contact to be your reference either in person or through a formal email rather than via text message.
If your contact agrees to be your reference, then you should make sure to check what their preferred mode of contact is , the times they are generally free to speak, and what their up-to-date contact information is.