Why you need references
The importance of references is often underestimated. Even if you perform poorly during the actual interview, your references could provide you with an opportunity to redeem yourself by convincing the hiring manager you're worth a shot. Unfortunately, they could also kill your chances of being considered if you pick unsuitable references.
This is why references are powerful assets for job-seekers if leveraged properly and effectively.
Display necessary contact information
It's important to keep the same formatting as your CV and cover letter to help it look like a complete "package." This special touch will help make your resume reference template look consistent, clean and professional. Here's a standard template to use as a baseline for every job reference:
- First and last name
- Job title, Company name
- Street address (optional)
- Mobile phone number
- Work phone number (optional)
- E-mail address
- Relationship to you (optional)
Make sure you collect all these details from each of your references.
Don't include references on your actual resume
Don't send references unless specifically requested by your interviewer. You should always have them on hand, just in case. This not only helps protect the privacy of your references, but employers need to determine if you are even qualified for the job in the first place before they would reach out to references.
Get permission to use that person as a reference
The last thing you want is for your reference to be completely caught off guard when a recruiter phones them and they have nothing prepared to say. You want to be confident that this person would be comfortable advocating for you on your behalf. In my experience, I've found that the best references come from outside your job vertical. For example, try asking past athletic coaches, club organizers, etc. As a rule of thumb, it's usually good to have a mix of both professional and personal contacts on your resume references template.
By asking someone to be a reference, you are asking them for a favour. Try to be as polite as possible. If they don't accept or respond, don't take it personally. There could be other reasons for their decision that you may not be aware of. You could say something like this:
"Hey X, hope you're doing well. I've started to begin looking a new job recently and was wondering if you'd be OK with me listing you as a potential reference for my role at X. Thank you!"
You want to be 100% sure that this person would be confident in giving you a glowing review. Even a lukewarm, "I didn't really work with her much" review can be damaging to your reputation. It's better to accept a declined reference invitation and move onto someone else, rather than being unsure about what that person would say.
Educate your references
Be sure that all your current references have an up-to-date version of your resume and know your objectives in your new job search. They should also be familiar with your past work, your accomplishments and strengths, as well as your weaknesses and short-comings. Keep in mind the best references are people that are closest with you personally, or are most familiar with your job performance, such as a previous manager or boss.
Employers may ask your references questions such as: How competent was the candidate in performing X task? How well does this candidate communicate? Do they get along with co-workers? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Make sure they are a least prepared to answer these basics questions.
Always remember to thank your references for their help! Regardless if the company contacts them or not, it's common courtesy to extend thanks for their offer to assist in your job search.