Choosing Job References is Important
Who should serve as your references?
Selecting people to be your employment references deserves some thoughtful consideration. Try to select individuals who know you well and are able to speak in an informed manner about your work-related qualities.
Former employers generally know how to assess your skills, strengths, reliability, initiative, and ability to work with others. This information can be very valuable even if your current employment is not complimentary, or otherwise related to a specific career or profession.
Remember to include professors, and other faculty members who can assess your academic ability, productivity, and commitment. Others, such as advisors and coaches, may also have insightful information about you, which could be relevant to a potential employer. Always avoid selecting references who only know you in a social capacity.
When selecting references be sure to first seek the permission of the individual as a professional and personal courtesy. Be certain to keep your references apprised of your job search activities, and provide them with a current resume and a list of persons or organizations who may contact them.
Your resume provides valuable insight into your background, experience, abilities, and interests to each reference – a teacher or professor may be very familiar with your academic skills and an employer may know your on-the-job characteristics, but each may not be aware of the other.
When possible, provide your references with a copy of the job description for positions to which you are applying. Such information will assist your references be better prepared for inquiries, and keeping them well-informed will help them become better references for you.
When contacted, your references will be asked everything from how you may fit the position you’re interviewing for, to questions about your attendance and reliability. Ask your references some sample questions and see what type of responses they provide. Now, have each reference checked by an professional reference verification service to gain complete confidence of the outcome. You’ve invested a great deal of time in preparing for your job search, now is not the time to cut corners. Preparation + Verification = Success.
When to give your reference list to a prospective employer:
Contacting references is time-consuming and therefore most employers will do some initial screening of candidates by reviewing resumes and conducting some initial interviews either by phone or in person before requesting or contacting any references.
However, you should be prepared to provide your reference information when you are asked for it – have it ready at a moments notice. Should you reach the interview stage and have not been asked for reference information, you may choose to offer it, but generally do not mail reference information with your resume, unless it has been specifically requested.
Where to list references:
Many job seekers choose to state “References available upon request” as the last line on their resumes. If you are having difficulty squeezing the last bit of relevant information onto your resume, don’t bother listing “references available upon request.”
Most employers assume everyone can supply references, therefore it isn’t essential to include this wording on your resume.
Your list of references should complement your resume by using exactly the same heading style, format, and location, printed on matching high quality resume paper. Create a separate reference page which includes your references full name, title, organization with which the person is affiliated, complete address, phone number and e-mail address (if available). Make absolutely sure you have spelled the names of your references correctly.
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