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How to Choose Your References and Who You Shouldn’t Include.

Your resume and cover letter are obviously one of the most important pieces when applying for jobs and making a first impression, but what about your reference list? This is often a forgotten piece of a resume and the interview process by applicants. If you don’t include a reference list on your resume, you can bet your interviewer will ask for it or you’ll fill it out on your application. Either way you’ll be providing a list at some point and poorly chosen references can really hurt your chances of getting a job. So how should you chose who should go on your references list?

Consider Your Choices

It should be easy to narrow down as your references should be people from your professional life. It’s good to have a personal reference on hand, as this speaks to your character outside of the work place, but generally a potential employer will only want professional references. You should choose someone that is familiar with your skill set and your current work. Don’t choose your coworker/mentor/manager that you haven’t worked with or spoken to in 10 years. You can certainly list them, but you need to also have someone listed who is current in your life. No matter your reference, they should be someone you know will speak highly of you.

Ask Permission 

Before you list anyone as a reference you need to reach out and ensure they are willing to speak with someone and will put a good word in for you. (Hence why it’s probably not a good idea to use that colleague from 10 years ago that you don’t speak with) You want to give the reference a heads up they may be receiving a call and make sure they are comfortable!

Provide your References Information

Sending your resume to all references is a good rule of thumb.  You want them to be knowledgable of your current and past positions, because they may not work with you, and what you offer. Your references should also know the position your applying for so that they can be prepared when asked why you would be a great fit for that job.

Be Selective

You may have several people in your life you can add to your references list, but you may not need to use them all. Customize your list to best fit the position your applying for – just as you would a resume.  Select people who are knowledge of the field or position you’re going into and someone who can speak to your previous experience that relates to that industry.

Provide the Employer All Information 

Make it easy on your prospective employer and show up prepared! A good reference list will have a full name, position title, company name, phone number, email address, and a good time for your reference to be reached.

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