Now that you have your resume and cover letter all ready for your job applications, be sure you have an up to date, relevant list of references.
Choose people that can speak positively about your skills and experiences directly related to the position you have applied for. Direct supervisors or managers and people you have worked closely with are ideal. If your background is in self employment, a client may make a good reference.
If you don’t have a work history, you can ask people you volunteered for or coaches, teachers and even the neighbour whose lawn you mowed or the parents whose children you babysat. Avoid using personal references unless the employer has specifically asked for them.
Remember, not only will prospective employers Google you, they will also Google your references. This is often how they get their first impression of you both. If you Google yourself and your references beforehand, you will be better prepared for any questions that might arise.
Have a minimum of three references, consider more if you are applying for senior positions.
Check in with your references when you are actively applying for work. If you are going for an interview, provide your references with a copy of the job posting and your updated resume. This will allow them to be better prepared to relate their answers directly to their experiences with you. You can even give them some ideas about which of your skills they might like to highlight.
Make sure to show gratitude to your references, it takes time for them to do this for you. Send them a thank you note.
List your references on a separate sheet of paper in a format that matches your resume. Include their name, position, organization/company, address, email and phone number. Ask your reference for the best contact information to use and if there is any information they would not like included. Make it as easy as possible for your prospective employer to contact your references. Here is an example:
Ms. Job Reference, Greatest Boss Ever
ABC Company, 123 Street, Parksville, BC V9P 1K1
Work: 250-951-XXXX Cell: 250-951-XXXX Home: 250-951-XXXX
If you don’t include a reference from your most recent employer or one of your previous employers, be prepared to be questioned about why you didn’t.
It is not necessary to include your references in your resume when you apply, most often people wait until they have an interview. There is no need to include “References available upon request”. If you decide to include your references in your application, you have to be prepared that the employer may contact the reference without letting you know.