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Reference Checks

Match your reference list to your resume.

Create your reference list separately from your resume, but use a similar style and the same font, letterhead and stationery. Provide the following minimum information about each reference, but make sure your references approve of what you write about them.

  • First and last name
  • Current job title
  • Organization name
  • Business postal and email addresses
  • Day and evening phone numbers with area codes
  • Relationship (e.g., former supervisor)

Carry several copies of your reference list to interviews, but don't offer it unless asked. In other words, avoid placing your references in the hot seat unless it's necessary. The less frequently your references are pestered, the more enthusiastic they may be.

If employers want to conduct reference checks, you can bet that they'll ask for your list, either during interviews or on job applications.

Some job applicants make the mistake of providing only the last-known contact information for one or more of their references and assume that potential employers or reference-check agencies will track them down, if they really want to talk to them. Not!

Don't make the same mistake. It's not the responsibility of employers or agencies to keep tabs on your references, it's yours. Make sure that their contact information is accurate and current, just prior to submitting it for a reference check. If you can't locate a reference, then don't list him or her for reference checks; find another.

Should I type References available upon request in my resume?

It's up to you. But, these days, it's a waste of precious resume space. It was a standard practice for so long, that employers now automatically assume that job applicants will provide for reference checks when asked. Subsequently, professional resume writers often omit typing References available upon request in modern resumes.

Protect the privacy of your references.

When posting your resume and cover letter at job banks or elsewhere on the Internet, don't publicly post your references' personal information or you might not have them as references for long! Again, if employers want to conduct reference checks, you can bet that they'll ask for your list.

Tell your references when you've submitted them.

Immediately let your references know which companies might soon be contacting them for reference checks, so they're prepared for it. Make sure that your references are going to be available in the next few days too.

If not, contact replacements from your standbys to let them know that a reference check might be forthcoming. Then, contact the companies at which you've applied, explain the situation, and provide the replacements. Don't lose a job opportunity simply because an employer couldn't reach one of your references!

Thank your references.

They are put on the spot during reference checks, on your behalf. Let them know that you're grateful. You might need them again.

Reference Checks
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