How to Handle References on Your Resume [Full Guide]


How to Handle References on Your Resume [Full Guide]

Harris Melvin
| March 29, 2020 Last Updated 2020-03-29T18:58:16Z

When applying for jobs, it’s essential to have references on your resume.

People who can vouch for you can help you win a job? By speaking to your skills and character, they’ll let your potential employer know that you’re a worthwhile hire.

If you’re curious about how to handle resume references, look no further. We’ll tell you everything you need to know, and we’ll explain what you should and shouldn’t do.

Let’s get started!

1. Carefully Select Your References

If you want to land your dream job, choose your references carefully.

The people you ask should be able to vouch for your skills as an employee. So, it’s better to ask people with whom you have a professional relationship.

That means you shouldn’t ask a family member or friend. Instead, ask a boss, co-worker, or a professor from your university to recommend you for a position.

You should also choose your references based on the job you’re applying for. It's best not to ask a boss in an industry that doesn’t line up with the kind of work you'd like to do.

But if you don’t have a lot of job experience, asking a boss in an unrelated the industry is your best option.

2. Get Accurate Contact Information

If a person agrees to be a reference, make sure you have the correct contact information.

They won’t be much help if you can’t provide a way for the hiring manager to contact them!

Here’s a list of contact info you should include on your resume:
  • Their full name
  • The name of the company they work for
  • Their current job title
  • Their business address
  • Accurate contact information such as a phone number and email
  • Their relationship to you.

If you haven’t spoken to a reference in a while, reach out to them. Make sure that their address and phone number haven’t changed.

It wouldn’t hurt to catch up with them, either. A past co-worker or boss might be curious about how your career is going. A quick update can give them some things to discuss when they talk to your hiring manager.

3. List References Correctly

Believe it or not, there’s actually a correct way to list references on your resume.

The the hiring manager is likely to call the person at the top of the list first. So, you should list your references in the order that you want the manager to call them.

You should also make a list specifically for private job searches (more on this below).

Put References With Outstanding Reviews on Top

At the top of your list, you should put down a few people who you know would give you a fantastic review.

Of course, if someone has already agreed to be a reference, they’re going to say good things about you. But some references may provide better reviews than others.

It’s likely a hiring manager won’t contact everyone on your list. That’s why you should list the people who will give you glowing reviews first.

Have a List of References for Private Job Searches

It’s hard to ask your boss for a reference when you’re still working at the company. If you’re uncomfortable asking your current boss, use people from past jobs.

If your boss finds out you are thinking about quitting, that could be bad news! So it’s best to keep your job search discreet by leaving your current employer out of it.

4. Send Your Resume to Your References

Even if someone agrees to be a reference, they may not know everything about you. Give them a copy of your resume to let them know about all of your accomplishments.

Yes, they can probably attest to your skills as an employee. But if they want to reference your other skills, your resume will help them to do so.

If you’ve written a strong resume, it should outline your talents, skills, and experiences. Your references can refer to it while they’re talking to your hiring manager.

In order to highlight all of your skills and accomplishments, your references need to have a copy.

Side note: If you know if a company will contact your reference soon, give them a heads up.

5. Only Provide References if Necessary

Don’t send references unless a job description asks for them. The manager won’t call them until the very end of the hiring process, so they don’t need them right now.

Once you are invited to interview for the position, then you should bring your list. If the hiring manager requests it via email, be sure to send it over in a timely fashion.

Keep in mind that a hiring manager might not ask for them during your interview. Or, they might wait until they've narrowed down their list of candidates to a few people before they reach out to references.

Regardless of the scenario, it doesn’t hurt to go into the interview prepared. But, it’s best not to offer up your references unless they ask.

In Summary

When you apply for jobs, you need to have a list of people who can vouch for you. This is how your future employer will verify that you’re a strong candidate.

Put careful thought into your choices. Based on who you select, make sure you have their correct contact information.

Strong references can help you stand out from the rest of the applicants when you’re applying for work. Even though not all companies ask for them, it never hurts to have some people lined up just in case.

Now, it’s time to get to work. Start jotting down the names of some people who are aware of your value. You’re a talented, hard-working professional, so they’ll have no problem putting in a good word for you!

Author Bio:

Angus Flynn has five years of Property Management experience. His ability to consistently deliver white-glove service to his residents and prospects has propelled him into a successful career that now finds him leading the team at 837 Harvard.
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