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6 Ways to Get Outstanding References

6 Ways to Get Outstanding References

Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Your resume and cover letter may be all spiffed up, but what about your references? Employers may ask for a reference list when considering you for a job, so it needs to be in top form as well. Create yours by following these expert tips.

Format for References

Create a separate document that includes a list of people who have agreed to speak with prospective employers in support of your candidacy.

“Your references should be listed on a page separate from other job application materials,” says Jeff Shane, vice president at Allison & Taylor, a professional reference- and background-checking service based in Rochester, Michigan. “Your reference list should match your resume’s fonts and format.”

Include the names and complete contact information of each reference, including job title, employer, business address, email address and telephone number, he says. “Their relationship to you — supervisor, etc. — should also be identified,” he says.

The list can also describe how the contact knows you, giving the reference checker context and a springboard for the conversation. “Consider adding a brief paragraph that describes a project that you worked on together or a skill that the person can attest to,” says Chris Nolan, SPHR, a Maynard, Massachusetts-based HR consultant.

How Many References?

It’s better to have more references than a prospective employer would likely check. Pam Venne, principal of The Venne Group, a Dallas career-management firm, advises job seekers to create a references pool. “When you’re asked for references, you can strategically choose the best people to represent what you want highlighted for the opportunity.”

Typical job seekers should have three to four references, while those seeking more senior positions should consider listing five to seven, experts suggest. And be sure to list your strongest reference first.

Next: Choosing Your References >>


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