References lists are an essential component of the job application process, along with cover letters, resumes, and interview follow-up letters. When composing your resume, make sure you are also armed and ready to go with a solid list of current references should the opportunity for an interview arise or if a potential employer is particularly interested in you for the position at hand.

What Is a References List?

A reference list is just what it seems to be: a list of professional and personal references, or sources of information from multiple perspectives that can attest to your work ethic, reliability, capabilities, strengths, professional performance, assets, demeanor, people skills, character, and personality. A list of references provides potential employers with a more candid glimpse of the professional and the person standing behind the resume.

How to Effectively Deliver Your List of References:

Compose a neat and orderly list of references:

You can place your references in alphabetical order by the last name as one list, or group them alphabetically under subheadings of “Professional References” and “Personal References.”

List 4 to 5 references:

Too long of a list can be a deterrent, just like too short of a list. Try to include 3 to 4 professional references and 1 to 2 personal references.

For each reference, include current contact information:

For each person listed, note his/her first name, last name, job title, company name, address, email address, and phone number. Make sure you keep this information current and updated.  You can indicate next to each reference in parentheses if he/she is a “personal” or “professional” contact, if you choose not to split your list into the two subheadings mentioned above. For strictly personal contacts, job titles and company names are not necessary.

Check in with your references from time to time and secure prior permission to list them:

Make sure they are aware they might receive a call on your behalf and are willing to take the call in the first place. This avoids negative or bewildered reactions that can reflect poorly on you. Also, keep them abreast of any professional developments and career changes. Update references as necessary; it is best to use references that are recent contacts, such as current colleagues, professional associates, accounts, and bosses.

They should know who you are and what you are currently doing. Obviously, only choose references that you know will give you a glowing commendation.

Present your references list with your resume for potential employers giving you strong consideration:

If you connect with a potential employer who offers you positive feedback as a probable candidate for the job, enclose your list of references with your resume. Although you shouldn’t do this every time you send out your resume,  it works well if someone you know is submitting your resume to a direct connection, or if you have reason to believe the job may be yours. In this way, you show that you are prepared, thorough, and ready to go.

It also saves the potential employer time, as he/she doesn’t have to contact you to ask for your references. It portrays confidence that you have positive references who are willing to attest to your assets. Avoid offering your references list with your resume when you apply to posts on job search engines, as you don’t want to subject your references to a bombardment of solicitation or time-wasting calls.

Bring your list of references to all job interviews:

Always be prepared to leave behind your list of references after a job interview. It is a poor reflection if you are not prepared, and a prospective employer will not want to chase you for the information.

Avoid this: Do not put “References Available Upon Request” on your resume

It is assumed— and obvious— that if you want the job, you will provide a list of references.

Remember, All About Writing is here to help create an effective resume or curriculum vitae (CV) , along with an effective cover letter and list of references. We are more than happy to answer any questions you have about these topics.

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-by Christa Riddle

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