young woman interviewingWhat Is a References List?

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, prepare a solid list of current references.

A references list provides potential employers with professional and personal references that can attest to your work ethic, reliability, capabilities, strengths, professional performance, assets, demeanor, people skills, character, and personality from multiple perspectives. A list of references provides a more candid glimpse of the professional and person behind the resume.

Composing a References List

  • Compose a neat and orderly list of references: You can place your references in alphabetical order by 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. Use references that are recent contacts who know you are and what you are currently doing. Choose references that you know will give you a glowing commendation with specific details.
  • Keep it current: 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. Make sure your references are aware they might receive a call on your behalf and are willing to take the call in the first place to avoid confusion. Also, keep them abreast of any professional developments and career changes.
  • 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 and portrays confidence on your behalf. Avoid offering your references list with your resume on online job search engines to keep your references’ information confidential.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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