References 101

Employers usually check references before making a hiring decision. Therefore, it is important to get your references together as early as possible in the job search process.

Here are some general guidelines regarding references:

  1. References should be your biggest supporters and fans.  When contacted, you want your references to rave about you.  So obviously pick people who will speak of you in a positive light. 
  2. You should typically have 3-5 references ready and available.
  3. Make sure your references have agreed in advance to serve as references (i.e. write reference letters or answer phone calls concerning your candidacy).
  4. Never list someone as your reference unless you have their permission to do so.
  5. Your references should come from professionals (either academic or work related) and must be able to address your performance and professional abilities.
  6. Never list personal character references.
  7. Politely keep your references up-to-date on the progress of your job search.
  8. It is advisable to give each reference a copy of your resume as well (i.e. helps them to speak confidently about all of your experience).
  9. Always express appreciation to your references.  They are doing you a favor.
  10. As a general rule, don't write "References available on request" on your resume.  It's not necessary. Plus, it just takes up valuable space on your resume.
  11. Never put your references on the resume itself.  Always put references on a separate sheet of paper.
  12. On the reference page, it is standard practice to provide prospective employers with a list of your reference's names, their contact information, their title, and the organization they are with. See references example