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References are contacts within your network who have agreed in advance to speak to prospective employers about their professional interaction with you. Most employers will ask for them.

It is important to ask someone to be a reference up front, so they won’t be surprised when they are contacted and that they have a chance to prepare their comments and remarks about you.

You’ll need several references, and it’s good to have a mix of the kinds of reference. A former boss, former peers, former customers, former direct reports are all good work related contacts. It also helps if you have references from any volunteer organizations you have been actively involved in. If you are recently out of school, or involved in a graduate or technical program, references from teachers/professors are helpful.

If you have worked previously in your target industries or if you can find a strong reference in a target company, these references will have a stronger voice with the employer when references are checked.

It is best to stay away from using relatives as references.

If you are currently employed, use good judgment when asking co-workers and others close to the current organization to act as a reference. If word gets out that you are considering other employment, it could generate awkward and detrimental behaviors toward you.

When you provide references to a prospective  employer, it is critical that you notify the references that they may be contacted. Provide your references some background information on the job posting, the company, the industry, and a couple of things you would like your reference to highlight about you during the conversation. It’s a good idea to ask the reference to let you know when they’ve been contacted and get their impressions of the conversation. Any activity with references should be recorded on the job log.

Your reference database should contain at least six to ten entries:

  • Reference name and current job title.
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email Address
  • A brief description of when and where you worked with the individual and your relationship with them.

It is a good idea to include all of your references on the distribution of your Announcement of Avaliability and your Status Updates. If possible, include one or more references as your accountability partner and ask them for feedback on your artifacts. Keeping your references engaged in your job search will help move the job search forward.

Artifacts Page

Job Search Table Of Contents