13 do’s and don’ts for your professional references
This special moment in the job search eventually comes and a splendid moment it
is. You have been through a round of interviews and those magical words are
finally spoken, “We’d like to check your references.”
The days of reference letters have pretty much gone the way of Pac Man.
Potential employers want to be able to speak to an ex employer or colleague to
hear their voice and to ask them questions.
Who can be your reference? The best choice is of course your last direct
report, your manager or supervisor. You may also use a colleague or in some
instances a client, as long as the reference is able to validate what you have
written on your resume.
Some do’s and don’ts for giving your references:
- Don’t list your references directly on your resume.
- Prepare a separate sheet of paper for your references.
- Do list at least 3 business and 1 character references depending on the
level of the position applied for. More senior positions may require up to 5
- On the left side of the page list the references’ name, job title (now or
when you worked for them), name of company they work for, phone number and email
- On the right side of that listing insert the reference’s relationship to you
such as “Manager for 5 years”.
- Divide the page into Business references and list three of them, then
Character references and list one or two.
- Do not offer your references in an interview, wait until you are asked for
- Have your reference page typed up and take it with you on all job
- Immediately after giving out your references call each one and tell them
about the interview you just had. Don’t wait to call until you get home as the
employer may start calling as soon as you leave their office.
- Ensure you know your references are able to take calls or if they are away
maybe email is a better way to connect with them.
- Tell your references about the position you interviewed for and the company
and most importantly the accomplishments that were discussed that your reference
- Give your reference tips of what not to mention that is irrelevant or
inappropriate and what to focus on. Educate each reference on what the hiring
manager found interesting and relevant.
- Discuss with each reference how you want them to answer the ‘weakness’
The reference checker is listening for the tone of voice your references use.
They are listening for authenticity in their answers. The checker will ask
questions in different ways to elicit responses that validate truisms. Even
overseas references are telephoned these days, so feel free to provide
references from any country with appropriate dialing instructions.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to coach your references on the
interview you are being referenced for and as soon as you exit the
Hopefully your references will have glowing comments and you will be days
away from a new beginning.
Author of: Networking How To Build
Relationships That Count
and How to Get a Job and Keep It