Reference can be an integral part of your job search; having someone vouch for your integrity, work ethics, and character can be a persuasive factor in whether or not you land the job. However, you should never willingly offer up a list of references by including them with your resume. Resumes and references should be kept far away from one another unless they are specifically requested to be submitted at the same time – which is a rare occurrence.
You don’t want a potential employer to contact your references before they even bring you in for an interview. After all, you want to be the one to make an impression, not have someone else do it for you. Don’t do anything that might jeopardize your chance of getting the job. If you send a list of references with your resume a hiring manager might decide to check you out beforehand to decide whether or not it is worth bringing you in for an interview. On the off chance that a reference doesn’t give you a glowing recommendation you could be removed from consideration before you even have a chance to make your own first impression.
It is also recommended that you do not state “Reference Available Upon Request” at the bottom of your resume. This is a very common practice but one that is completely unnecessary. It not only states the obvious – of course you should be able to provide references if asked for them – but it also takes up valuable space that could be better used to promote your unique qualifications and value.
Since we are talking about references, make sure that you ask permission to use someone as a reference. Let them know what types of positions you are applying for and the company so they have a heads up and can be prepared if they receive a call. A prepared reference will be able to give a much better picture of you than if your reference is caught off guard by a call from a company seeking a reference. You don’t want a reference that isn’t ready to sell you as the ideal candidate.
Choose references that are relevant; former colleagues, business associates, and bosses would all be great for professional references. Personal references can include neighbors, friends (if they can provide a good example of your character), fellow volunteers, members of a committee you serve on, almost anyone that knows you in a capacity outside of your profession. I would not suggest that you use family members as references. It will be very hard for any reference from family to be viewed as authentic; I mean really, is your mom going to say anything bad about you?
You should compile a list of 4-6 professional and personal references that can provide an accurate, relevant, and flattering reference that promotes your value to a potential employer and gives them a clear idea of the type of employee you would be. Your reference sheet should use the same font and format as your resume and should provide the name, relationship, time known, and contact information. A reference sheet should be kept as a separate professional document that only makes an appearance when necessary. However, it is important that you are prepared with a reference sheet so don’t disregard it completely.
Editor’s note: An indirect way to include a “reference” on a resume is to use quotes from former employers, managers or colleagues. Including these quotes coming from others who have worked with you can lend credibility to your application.
by Megan Koehler