References for Your Job Search
References for Your Job Search

The following rules are important when considering references for your job search:

  1. Always ask a person for permission before you use them as a reference. You want to be sure the person you ask is not surprised by a call and that they are willing to give you a positive report. According to a survey by Accountemps, 34% of job candidates are removed from consideration for a job after their references are checked.
  2. Do not list your references (or “references by request”) on your resume. You want to shield your references from being bothered by every potential employer—they should receive a call only from employers who consider you a strong candidate.
  3. If a former or current boss is not a good reference for you, look for options: a different manager or supervisor in the company who is familiar with your work; a coworker; a vendor or customer with whom you worked closely; or someone who provided a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. If you made a significant contribution as a volunteer in a nonprofit, you should be able to find someone there willing to act as a reference for your job search.
  4. Hiring managers and recruiters might ask your references about your strengths and weaknesses (38% of managers according to the Accountemps survey), so make sure your resume is accurate and that your references have a copy to refer to. You do not want to be caught in a lie or put your references in an awkward position at this stage of the process.
  5. Your resume can be used to provide “recommendations” in two ways. First, you can include information gathered from your reviews at work. For example, a reviewer might score you particularly high on collaboration with colleagues, a fact you can add to your resume. Second, you should list relevant awards, speaking engagements, and publications which show that you are respected by your peers and industry.