Author: Dina Barabash, Content Development & Web Specialist
Posted: Sept. 30, 2022

You will likely be asked to provide several things when applying for a job: a cover letter, resume and references. Typically, you will be asked to provide between three and five references on the application. So, how do you decide who to include? Hopefully, we can help make that decision a little easier!

The right reference can help employers see your potential and picture you as part of the team. When considering references, there is good news! You can choose from a number of different relationships, including the following: academic: teachers, college professors, instructors, guidance counselors, career counselors, and vocational counselors; employment: past employers, co-workers, supervisors or managers, direct reports, clients, and vendors; personal: people who know you well and can attest to your work ethic and your ability to do a job; professional: business and professional contacts, mentors and sponsors.

When considering personal references, should you choose friends? Yes and no. List a friend if they’re currently employed at the business to which you’re applying or if they were your supervisor. Other than these instances, it’s best to avoid using friends as references.

Before selecting your references, as with the interview, preparation is key. When you have chosen your potential reference, it is customary and a courtesy to contact them in advance to obtain their permission. Once you have received their permission, be sure to let them know who will be contacting them and for which position(s) you are being considered for hire. This will allow them to prepare as well. Additionally, you want to be prepared to give the hiring manager everything they need before they begin their calls. Typically, this will include the names, titles, daytime phone numbers, email addresses and a brief explanation of the nature of your relationship for each reference you are submitting. Follow these tips and you are sure to be better prepared during the interview process.

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