How To Provide Professional References To Employers
When a prospective employer asks you to provide a list of professional references to vouch for your qualifications, here are some of the steps you can take:
1. Ask permission
Make sure to inform and ask the permission of the person you want to list as a professional reference before giving out their contact information. It helps them know to expect to be contacted in the future, so they can prepare what to say when called upon.
2. Create a list of references
Provide a list of references in the application documents that will be shared with the prospective employer. Under each reference, include the persons name, job title, company, mail address, email, and phone number. Also, include information on your relationship with the reference.
3. Keep the references updated
Inform the references on the progress of the recruitment process so that they know when they will be contacted. It keeps them prepared to provide a detailed recommendation about your work qualities, style, and work ethic.
The Best Way To Ask For A Reference
Not sure who you should ask to give you a reference or how to ask them to recommend you for employment? Here’s how to ask for a reference, along with a sample reference request letter you can tailor to fit your personal circumstances.
Be sure to take the time to follow up and keep the people you use for references updated regarding your status.
You should also write a thank you note to show your appreciation for their willingness to serve as your reference.
When you ask for a reference, you should provide them with all the information they will need to speak or write persuasively about you. Good documents to send them include your resume, the job descriptions for which you are applying, and lists of your volunteer and/or team activities.
Who Should Provide Them
Personal references are commonly provided by teachers, lecturers, group or club leaders, neighbours, friends and family members. Those providing the reference should know you well and be able to give examples that back up statements about your character. While friends and family are acceptable referees, it is better for you to select someone who is not immediate family as their opinion may be construed as being biased.
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Can I Include References Without Their Permission
No way! Youre buying a one-way ticket to unemployment hell if you blindside former employers by listing them as references on a resume without even checking with them first.
A job search is a process, and you cant just skip a bunch of steps. If you used to be Bill and Melinda Gates nanny, you cant just put their private contact info on your resume without getting their permission first.
If you need character references on a resume, reach out to your most promising prospects. How do you ask someone to be your reference? Explain what youre up to, what kind of job youre seeking and why you need a reference. If you used to work for Warren Buffett, hes probably busy earning another $1 billion today, but he might have five minutes to dash off a note saying you were a great bookkeeper.
Speaking of which, instead of seeking permission to publish their contact info, why not ask former employers for a short testimonial about what an awesome employee you were? You can probably get far more mileage from a professional reference letter than from a phone number that Elon Musk doesnt answer anyway.
Everything You Need To Know About A Personal Reference
Many employers will ask you to provide references as part of your application or at some stage during the interview process. The personal reference, sometimes known as the character reference, is a brief assessment of you as an individual provided by someone who knows you outside of work. This should not be confused with the professional reference which is provided by a former or current employer. Rather than covering your skills and competencies in the workplace, the personal reference will cover your personality, character, behaviour and ethics.
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How Many References Should You Have
Most job seekers should have between three and four references on their reference page.
However, if youre applying for a position that requires extensive vetting like a senior-level role, you should include between five and seven professional references.
But remember that all of your references should be high quality. Each reference should be able to meaningfully attest to your professional strengths and character. Dont include more references just to hit a higher number.
Toss The Letters Of Recommendation
Admit it those generic letters are boring and annoying. After ten years with a company, wouldn’t they write a better letter? Employers want to read specifics about your work, not some form letter prepopulated with fluff. When asking your former employer to write a recommendation, mention some of your attributes and contributions. Ask them to include those in the letter. Should they send a generic letter, toss it, and say thanks.
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Boost Your Linkedin Profile With References
Networking sites like have become a hot spot for employers. They often search for LinkedIn profiles that suit their needs.
This is relatively new, but the trend points towards an optimized chance of getting employed if your profile is filled with references.
Besides that, if you have a public recommendation in your LinkedIn profile given by your former boss or the former HR Director of your company, they will probably keep their opinion not to contradict themselves or simply because they liked your job performance.
While looking for references on LinkedIn, it is necessary to know how to get recommendations on the website and who you can ask for references. Sufficient research on how to manage the received recommendations is also required.
The old-school ways of getting references still retain the same importance. But the professional networking sites are gaining prominence as more and more employers are looking towards them to scout for employees.
A Few Tips For Listing References On Resume:
- Request for permission from the references before giving out their names.
- Ideal to mention references who will give positive feedback about you.
- It is important to provide references who are ideal considering the relevance of the job.
- Let the listed references know so that they expect a call or email from the recruiter.
- It is better to avoid giving a reference with whom you had a professional conflict even if you were reporting to the person.
- Confirm the full name, address, phone number, and the work profile of the references.
- You need not mention references on your resume unless the employer asks.
- You can use a specific format while listing references as below:
Sharon was my direct reporting manager while I was working as the Digital Marketing Manager for XYZ Inc. between 2017 and 2019.
Before We Go
When applying for a job, you should be ready with a list of references for potential employers whenever they ask for it.
An employer may ask to provide references during the job application process itself or later when you get through the selection process, and the background verification is about to begin.
Checking the types of references and tips listed in this article will help you put references the right way, and everything will fall into place. Happy job hunting!
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Be Strategic And Don’t Overuse Your Sources
Choosing references should be a careful process. Don’t just list a group of people you think will speak positively on your behalf. Talk to those references. Ask them what they will say if contacted. Go over some of the information you think they will need to verify. Follow up with an email so you have a written confirmation. Select references who are legitimate. For example, don’t ask the company secretary to attest to your computer proficiencies, unless you worked on a specific project.
How To List References For A Job
When you apply for jobs or go to an interview, have a copy of at least three references with you. Even if the interviewer doesnt ask for it, you should offer it up before you leave and encourage them to call. When you list the references, you should include:
Reference Name, Reference Relationship
Reference Phone Number
Some people list references directly on their resume. While you can do this, its better to have a separate reference sheet. This can help ensure your current employer doesnt get notifieddirectly or indirectlythat youre looking for a new job before youre ready to share it with them.
You may also have a letter of reference or recommendation from a previous employer. You can provide it, along with your reference list, with a job application or upon request after an interview. Its always a good idea to ask an employer to write you a letter of reference so you have it to use in the future.
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Should You Put Your References On Your Resume
Nope! Your references should never show up your actual resume, here’s why:
First, resume space is precious.
You just spent hours editing your resume and squeezing it down to a single page. You really dont want to be wasting valuable space on your carefully edited resume by adding reference details.
On top of that, the company doesnt need or want your references when you submit your resume. They’re still trying to decide if you’re even qualified to do the job!
A value driven resume bullet about a project you led is going to be way more effective than giving out your old boss’s digits.
Plus, think about where you’re submitting your resume. If you’re sharing it on LinkedIn, on job boards like Indeed or Angel.co, you’re putting up a billboard with people’s information for everyone to see!
Your references may have your back now, but that might change if they start getting calls from Nigerian royalty who want to share their fortunes.
Ok, so should I at least put a line that says References available upon request’?
Nope! Its fully expected that youll provide references if the company requests them. Again, focus on selling yourself and your experience on your resume. We’ll take care of your references in a new doc called your Reference Sheet.
You’re going to want to fire up a new Google Doc for your references, but the key here is to make sure you’re staying consistent with your resume.
You want to make sure that your reference sheet includes:
- Your full name
- Link to your
Can I Use A Friend Or Family Member As A Reference
We are often asked:
My friend knows me really well, can they be my referee?
The answer is: no. The purpose of providing references is for the employer to get a professional and unbiased opinion about you and your abilities. Having friends or family members as your references creates a conflict of interest and defeats the whole purpose of trying to get an honest and unbiased view from an independent source.
The following are categories of people you cant use as your references:
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Whats A Personal Or Character Reference
Depending on the position youre applying for, the application or interviewer may ask for a list of personal or character references. This is just like it sayspersonal. These people should be able to speak to who you are as an individual, so they should be someone you know relatively well. You want them to be able to share your personality and character with a potential employer.
While its a good idea to have a list of personal references just in case, you should only share them if specifically asked. Good examples include:
Teachers, professors or advisors
Coworkers you know on a personal level
When reading an application or speaking with an interviewer, make sure you read carefully and youre clear whether they would like professional or personal references. That way you can provide them with the exact references theyre looking for, and the best ones to help you get the job. In most cases, theyll request professional references.
How To List Your References:
A detailed guide to listing references on a resume. Includes helpful tips and examples.
Determine the number of references to include.
The number of references you include in your reference list will depend on your career level. Entry-level positions generally require about three references, while more senior positions may require five to seven references from different times in your professional history.
For the most part, prospective employers will give you guidance on how many references they will want you to include on your reference page.
The best references usually include:
- Current or former managers or supervisors.
- Current or former coworkers.
- Current or former employees or direct reports.
- Academic advisors.
- Professional mentors.
Try to choose only those references that can advocate your qualifications as they relate to the job you are applying for as well as those who you know will give you a positive reference.
Create a separate page for your references.
In general, you should list your references on a separate, dedicated “resume references” page to be added as the very last page of your resume. However, if the job ad does not specifically request references, do not include them in your resume.
Also, do not add the phrase “references available on request.” It wastes valuable space on your resume, and if the recruiter wants references, they will ask for them.
Use the same font as on your resume.
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How To Request References
All right, so youve got your list of potential references, but youre not done yet! Contact these people to make sure they know youre planning on using them as a reference. This is also your way of checking that the contact information you have is correct and up-to-date.
Not only is it polite to reach out to your references before including their names on your list, but it has the added advantage of giving them time to prepare. That means when they get a phone call or email from your prospective employer, theyll be ready with the best examples of your professional excellence.
Depending on how distant your working relationship with the potential reference is, consider sending them a copy of your resume, so they can brush up on what experiences and qualities youre trying to highlight.
If theyre really invested in your success, consider sending the job description as well. The more information your reference has, the better chance they have to provide you with a top-quality recommendation.
Always follow up with references who agree to be on your list by sending a thank-you email. Its not just about being nice it also serves as a reminder that they should expect a call or email from your prospective employer soon.
How To Format A Resume References Section
Learning how to arrange a reference section is just as vital as other sections of your resume or cover letter.
A messy, carelessly formatted reference page will lose your employer’s interest.
So how do you write one thats eye-catching and professional?
First, put your references on a . Add an exclusive reference page, as the last page of your resume.
Keep the same format for your reference sheet as your resume and cover letter, meaning use the same font, margins, and color scheme.
If youve included personal references as well, you could also add Personal References as a subtitle.
Use the formatting we discussed in the previous section to list your references.
Ditch the common References available upon request.
This is a frequent mistake. Employers formerly know this and its an overworked phrase. The general rule of thumb is to keep your resume as brief as possible. Why misuse the space?
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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
When Should You Do A Reference Check
When an employer is considering extending an offer to a candidate and they need additional sources of information before extending an offer a reference check occurs.
These sources can include conversations with current and previous managers, co-workers and often include letters of recommendation, samples of work if applicable, verification of skill sets, and educational background.