When you go about writing and submitting a resume, you should not attach a reference list. At the same time, you need to have one available in case your interviewer requests a list of references.
You may be wondering how to write references and what exactly does it all mean. Don’t worry – we’re here to help you figure it all out and put it down on paper.
How to Handle References
The bottom line is when you’re learning how to write references, you absolutely do not add references to your resume at all. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth is that space is limited on your resume and you don’t want to add visual clutter that may or may not be relevant to your skills.
Instead of using the blank space for references, use it to highlight skills that set you apart. You can also use it to present more details about your experience. Putting that kind of information on your resume is going to mean more to potential employers than seeing a list of references.
Keep in mind that references are not requested until towards the end of the interview process. They wait to ask for your references because having them ahead of time is not very efficient. Potential employers don’t want to waste time by contacting people if they don’t have to, so there’s no point in having the information.
Listing References Correctly
As stated previously, you’ll want to have a reference list ready to go in case anyone were to request it. Begin your reference list by putting together a list of people you think would be good contacts. These individuals will give you positive references and can only help improve your hiring chances.
Each reference that you put down needs to have their name and phone number. Additional information that is useful includes position titles, organizational information, and alternate means of contact like an email address.
Don’t include your references’ physical addresses because that information isn’t necessary. Also, don’t forget to mention your relationship to that person as well as the length of time you’ve known or worked with that person.
Something else you’ll need to remember is the appearance of the reference list as you’re creating your page. Make sure that your reference list is written the same way that your resume is to create uniformity between the two. It looks more professional that way.
Tips on Choosing Your References
You’re going to find your best references come from former managers or co-workers because they have seen what you can do firsthand. If you’re new to the job market, you may have some difficulty finding professional references at first, so you’ll need to be creative.
For those that just don’t have job experience, the next best thing is going to be other individuals that you are actively involved with. These people can be teachers, coaches, professors, advisors, counselors, pastors, and volunteer directors.
The only time you should ever consider adding personal references to your list is if the job requests personal and professional references. They are two very different categories. Professional references know what you can do and have seen it. Personal references come from family and friends that will build up your character.
Don’t send personal references unless they are requested. Most employers stick to professional references, so that’s what you need to do, too.
Creating a Reference Page
As you’re working on learning how to write references, you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t take much to create a professional reference page. Don’t forget to include your own information at the top of the page. It should include your name, email, and phone number. Your physical address is optional.
The truth of the matter is that a reference sheet is straightforward to create once you have a suitable format to follow. Here is a suggestion as to what your references may look like once you start collecting them.
If you take a look at the above format, it’s pretty easy to follow. You need to put down the name of your reference, their role or position, where they work, a good contact number, their email address, and then how you know them.
Getting Permission from Your References
When you start looking for references, don’t be afraid to come up with a sizable list. Once you have the list of people you’d like to add to your reference list, begin to ask permission from the people you want to put on your page.
Not only is it the polite thing to do, but if you give people warning about being a reference, they’ll be ready to answer a phone call or email when it comes in. People without warning don’t have the opportunity to develop an appropriate response and can unintentionally make you look less than desirable to the potential employer.
Remember to always ask permission, and you’ll be ready to create your list. You’ll also want to note whether or not your references prefer being called or emailed. You may want to give your references a copy of your resume, too, so they’re familiar with what may be asked of them.
Narrowing Your References
You may know more people than you need to put on your list. The reality is that you don’t need more than a handful of references on the list that you send out. The question, however, becomes: How do you know which references to add?
You’ll need to choose your references carefully, so think about how they relate to what you need. Are your references relevant to the job you’re pursuing? If they are, then put them on the list. If not, then leave them off, and put them aside for another day.
Also, consider whether or not any of the references you want to include have relevant work experience in the industry that you’re trying to get into. If these references have gotten to work with you in the field you’re after, they should definitely go on the list.
You’ll also want to consider whether or not your references are well spoken. John, the co-worker, may have nothing but good things to say about you, but if he isn’t very articulate, he may not give as much detail as you would like. That doesn’t mean you should keep him off your list, but he may be better as a backup in case someone else isn’t available.
Not everyone is suited to give you the references you need for the job you want. There’s nothing wrong with realizing that Sally is better at giving references for a food service job because you worked with her waiting tables, while Joe is better at references pertaining to app development because you worked on a new app together.
You need to put real thought into creating your reference list to produce the best list for the job you’re applying for. If you’re considering multiple opportunities in different fields, it’s okay to make multiple reference pages that are best suited for each one.
A Final Few Words on How to Write References
When you go about searching for references, remember to choose people that know your work ethic, reliability, time management, and other positive job skills that will need to be highlighted.
If you have work experience, don’t forget to add people that you worked with like managers, supervisors, and co-workers. If you don’t have work experience, don’t forget that teachers and advisors are viable reference resources.
Choose your references based on the job you’re applying for combined with the relevance they each have in relation to either the industry or the job itself, if you can. When you’re looking at multiple jobs in different fields, it’s okay to have various references lists that are each suited to different positions.
At the end of it all, if you get the job, be sure you thank your references. They were likely contacted and gave you the glowing reviews you needed to land the job.