How to Pick the Best References for Your Resume

Pick the Best References for Your Resume References are sometimes overlooked by first-time job seekers. This shouldn’t be the case — references will help boost your chances of getting employed. Here’s how to pick the best professional ambassadors possible.

If you haven’t given much thought to references, it’s probably time to do so. Here are some pointers to help:

References With Little Work Experience

Because it’s your first time applying for an adult job, employers don’t really expect you to list professional work references. Instead, try to list quality people who can attest to your skills and passion.

How you’ve conducted yourself in class or participated in your club can help employers make a better hiring decision. Have you or do you complete assigned projects on time? How well do you communicate with others? How detail oriented are you? These are some of the things your references may focus on to convince the employer of your potential as an employee.

What Will Your Reference Say About You

If you think you have behaved poorly in a certain class or you lack rapport with a specific professor, don’t ask that professor to be a reference. Reflect on how you have conducted yourself in the past before listing a professor (or anyone) as your reference.

Keep in mind that employers are also looking for red flags to give them an idea of how you work under pressure or difficult circumstances. (All of your provided traits will be jotted down by the hiring manager to help him or her assess if you’re a good fit for the job and the working environment.)

Create a Separate Reference Page

Create a separate reference page with three to five references. Make sure to include the person’s name, job title, company, email, contact number and a short note on your relationship.

If the company requires you to list a specific number of references, make sure to do so. Do not provide your reference sheet during the first interview. The hiring manager will eventually ask for it if everything goes well.

Pick Out the Best Ones

As you grow your network and gain more work experience, expect your reference list to change. Building your network means a bigger pool to find strong references that can help you get employed.

It is best to pick out references that you have actually worked with and that can provide an insight into how you work. Perhaps you can list a project manager or a colleague you have been partnered with. Always keep your reference list updated to help you get your next dream job.

Keep In Touch With Your References

Don’t ever include a reference without asking that person’s permission. Being called by your hiring manager unexpectedly won’t work out well. Make sure to ask the reference to be prepared just in case he gets a call.

Manage your relationships with your references — you won’t know when you might need them down the road. You can reach out to them through various social media platforms, including LinkedIn, to let them know where you’re going professionally.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.