Everything you wanted to know about references but never asked

Let’s play Q&A today with the most frequently asked questions about references on resumes.

Should I list references on resumes?

No. Prepare a separate document formatted to match your references. It makes a better impression and ensures that your references will not be contacted early for jobs you may not want.

How many references on resumes should you have?

I suggest 3 to 5 because less than 3 references makes an employer curious as to why so few and more than that is excessive and even hard to fit on the page.

Who should I choose for my references?

Select people who can speak to your character, experience, and skill sets. Choose articulate and professional people who will represent you in the best way.

Examples can be:

  • Co Workers
  • Supervisors
  • Customers
  • College instructors
  • Non Profit Board or Committee members

What kind of information should I have for my references?

  • Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Cell Phone
  • Email
  • Extra: how you know them – former employer, coworker, instructor
  • Extra: what would they say about you? – attest to your character, work habits, success stories

What should I tell my references?

Ask them before you add them to the list or used them in an online application, but if you missed this step, don’t use the references on resumes until you have their permission.

After your professional resume is complete, email or even meet with your references to give them a copy of your resume. Two things can happen when you do this:

  1. Your references are able to respond with information you presented as your value and accomplishments in your resumes.
  2. Your references after seeing your resume may realize you have talents needed by someone in their network. Hint: statistics still say 85% of available jobs are in the hidden job market.

When should I submit my references?

The first part of this answer is to follow directions:

  • If you asked to provide references in an email submission or snail mail submission, include them.
  • When you are asked to provide them in an online application, provide them.

However, you should not send them every time you send your resume. Your references are being generous with their offer to give you a reference.

You start sending out too many resumes (click here for my thoughts on job search volume.) Your generous references will quickly tired of being your reference. Furthermore, their kind words may go sour if they are interrupted during supper every other night to respond to calls about you.

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Everything you wanted to know about references but never asked

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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