Your resume is your gateway to getting your dream job. It is how your prospective employer gets to know about your educational and professional qualifications and how you get to market yourself as the best possible candidate for the job. Every applicant wants their resume to be the best to gain the employer’s attention, and adding references to the list might seem like an excellent idea.
Adding references to your resume can pay off in the long run because your new employers might want to determine whether what you have claimed in the resume is accurate.
While the facts pertaining to your degree and qualifications can be quickly verified with a quick background check, your potential employers might want to know how you were as a person when you were a student or an erstwhile employee and learn more about their work ethics and professional history. This gives them a better insight into your character. Some employers hold a candidate’s integrity in high esteem, and it is as important to them as their skills and qualifications.
However, it is also essential to keep in mind to provide references in the resume only if the employers ask for it. A resume should not be more than two pages long, and you do not want to waste precious space listing something that the employers have not yet asked for. Some employers do not ask for references, preferring to judge applicants with their yardstick, while others may ask for three or more references.
It is better to have a list of references ready at hand so that you can provide them as soon as the employer asks for it, whether along with the resume or separately- just before they make you the final offer. Here is how to go about it.
How to List References For Your Employers?
If your employers ask for references at any stage of the screening process, here are some of the things to keep in mind.
1. Number of References
You might have several well-wishers in the industry who would gladly be your reference but refrain from making an endless list. Employers often ask for three to five references, and if they do not specify the number, you should stick to a maximum of five references as well.
It is a good idea to include contacts from various stages of your career- like an early mentor, a senior colleague, a superintendent or manager, and so on. Your prospective employer might not contact all the people you list, so it is good to have a mixed bag to give your employer options. It also gives them an idea of the goodwill you share with the people you have worked with over the years.
2. Selecting Your References
While selecting your references, you should select contacts who would be able to throw light on why you are perfect for the said position. They should be from the same industry in which you are seeking the position as it makes them better authorities to talk about your abilities.
Former co-workers, supervisors, team leaders, or mentors are good options. You also need to consider if they are still available and will be able to talk to your prospective employers when they get a call. Try not to list people as references who might have moved out of the country and might not be available to talk due to time differences or other issues.
3. Considering the Convenience of Your Contacts
Before putting someone’s name down as a reference, you need to ask them if they would be willing to talk to your employers over a call or answer their emails. This is a professional courtesy you should abide by, and it will also give them some time to prepare what to tell your employers when you get the call.
They will have time to prepare a crisp answer and highlight all your positive traits that will increase your chances. Do not ask anyone to be your reference if you feel they will not be comfortable speaking about you.
Tips to Include Resume in Your Resume
Here are some tips that will help you list your references better.
1. Do Not Take Additional Space
Unless your employer asks for it, do not list your references on the resume and take up additional space. Nor should you waste any space mentioning terms like “references will be provided on request” because it is understood you would provide them if asked for. Use your resume to list your educational and professional qualifications, and you could create a separate head like “List of References” when the employer asks for them.
2. Use Correct Formatting
Once you have made a list of your professional references on a separate page, format it correctly. Try to include the name, designation held by the person, name of the organization, and contact details, and make sure you follow the format for all the references.
You may also add the professional relationship you share with the person. While listing, put the name of your most essential reference or someone you have worked with in the recent past at the very top so that your prospective employers see them at the very beginning.
3. Accurate Contact Details
It is crucial to include accurate contact details for your references. This is especially true for references you might not have had any interaction with for a while. You might not have been in touch with your academic mentor or your first employer recently.
So before listing their contacts, get in touch with them and confirm that their contact details remain unchanged or, in case you find out they have changed, add the updated contacts. It will create a poor impression if your prospective employer tries to contact a reference and gets no response. Also, never list the personal addresses of your references and only include company details as much as possible.
4. Mention the Time
While mentioning your references, you must also remember that the people you are listing have professional lives of their own, and they might not be available to take calls during their work hours. Or, they might have a very narrow window to do so, like during lunch break.
In that case, go the extra mile and find out when they will be available to talk. And mention the time frame beside their name on the resume. Your prospective employer would not have to hang up after calling your reference due to their unavailability. This would help both parties to talk freely without wasting time on any side.
5. Use Right Information
It is imperative that you do not lie in your resume about any aspect of your professional life. Your new employers will get to know everything once they contact your references, so try not to include any information which would be different from what your references might tell your employers. You are meant to provide references to strengthen your position and not undermine your employer’s confidence in your even before you started.
6. Choosing the Right People
While listing your references, it is also essential that you take seniority into account. Never put your friend as a reference by listing them above your former boss. It would be best to be wary of using friends as references unless they are former colleagues or work in the same industry.
The same goes for family members with whom you might have worked. If it is your first job, you can list your mentors, coaches, former teachers, and principals as your reference. Choose them so that they can highlight your skills.
In addition, you should also know who not to list as a reference. In case you have had a tiff with someone at work, try not to use them as a reference unless you are sure that they will not let your difference get in the way of professional courtesy.
Examples of Listing References on a Resume
Senior Project Manager
1379 Clive Street, House Autumn, Boston 73438
Mr. Smith was my supervisor from April 2017 until June 2021
Senior Web Designer
Olive Tree Design House
2732 Kyd Street, Spring Mansion, Michigan 32339
Ryan Fullerton was my team leader from May 2018 until January 2022
At the end of it all, once your interviews are done and you have landed your job, do not forget to thank your references. After all, their support was a significant reason that helped you land the job. Sending a note of thanks or calling them up to thank them personally is a good way of showing your gratitude.
Listing your references on the resume should increase your chances of getting your dream job. Yes, it might be confusing at times to decide who would be the best reference point. After all, a professional rivalry is not unheard of, and you never know whether everyone has goodwill toward one another like you.
And yet, your supervisors, mentors, managers, and bosses would always have your best interest in mind if you were an excellent former employee. Let your work speak for itself, and they will be proud to see you doing well, giving their best professional opinion to your prospective employers.