Make Your References Count

Make Your References Count

You are looking to get hired for an exciting new job. Your resume has that tagline at the bottom “References Upon Request” right? In the hiring process when you get the call asking for those references, rest assured you have made it to the final field of candidates.

Deciding who to list as references can be quite a conundrum, but don’t wait for the request to put your list together. In many cases the right references can make or break your chance for a job offer.

For those of us who are already out there working, we have a list of past bosses, supervisors, managers and maybe even coworkers that would be suitable references. These are typically the types of people most often listed as references.

If you are entering the workforce for the first time, you likely have a list of about 3 to 5 people that you know for sure are fans of yours. They are friends, maybe family members, perhaps a teacher or neighbor that you get along well with. Without a work history that is the best you are going to be able to do. Of course, at the outset of your working life, hiring managers will expect that to be the case and they may or may not contact any of your references. (click here for more advice for new job seekers)

Of course, list that boss that ‘loves’ you and don’t leave off others from the past that you can count on to sing your praises. But don’t be afraid to list nontraditional references. As our careers grow, we all will be facing new exciting opportunities for jobs and roles we cannot even conceive today. So, use references like the co-chair of that charity event you planned or the co-captain of the amateur kick ball team you play for. You can even list the mentor you work with on your side hustle. Showing a future employer that you are well rounded and adaptable, no matter the role you seek to fill, can set you apart from the crowd.

Hiring managers interviewed in a survey conducted by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service, said they remove about 21% of candidates from consideration after speaking to their professional references. It’s likely that if a hiring manager is unable to reach your reference, your resume will end up at the bottom of the stack and you are less likely to land the job.

Here are 3 steps you can take to make sure your References are helping not hurting your employment chances.


Contact each reference in advance and get their permission to share their phone number and email. Follow up with a text or email each time you send out the list to hiring managers to be sure your references are looking out for the call.


Talking in person or on the phone when requesting a commitment from a possible reference, be sure to follow up with a quick reminder of your skills and results that best fit the new job. Be sure to repeat this step for each company that considers hiring you. Linking together an experience you shared during the interview to a touted skill by your reference could be the standout you need to land the post.


When you are searching for just the right placement your process could require several rounds of reference checks. Be sure to follow up with each reference you use and let them know where you are at in the process. Keeping them engaged and excited for the journey will ensure you are doing all you can to land that perfect job.

Are you curious how long it might take to find that perfect job? Working People found this article to be pretty informative on the subject.


Working People


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