Navigating Job References

A list of professional references is essential in your job hunt. This is a list of people who can attest to your qualifications and would be able to vouch for you if contacted by a prospective employer. Ideally, choose the people who will give the most useful feedback on your abilities, as opposed to just picking people with big titles who may not know you that well. For example, it would be more useful to give the name of a supervisor rather than the company CEO as the former will be able to speak of your day to day abilities on the job. For new graduates a former professor, internship supervisor or mentor is acceptable. It is important to already think of and select 3-5 people who would be good references for your job hunt.

Job References Do’s and don’ts

While including a list of references in the body of the CV has been a norm, this is not necessary. Follow the instructions on the job posting. If it does not ask for references, do not include them. If it does, include them in the specific manner in which they have been asked for. If the posting does not specify how many referees they want, three would be a safe number.

Have up to date information on your referee. This includes their email addresses, phone numbers, current company, position or job title. It would hurt your application immensely if you give a phone number that is no longer in use or if the potential employer calls and your reference no longer works there!

Give your references a heads up! When you decide to include a certain person in your reference list ask for their permission, and let them know when you have used them as a reference and for what job so that they are prepared when someone calls. Brief them on the job requirements so they know how to align your qualifications with the job at hand.

Don’t forget to say thank you to your references, whether they were contacted or not. Update them on the results of the job application (whether positive or negative) and thank them for their willingness to vouch for you.




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