Job searches begin with preparing or updating a resume. A lot of thought goes into the resume preparation to ensure it concisely captures the knowledge, skills, and abilities that make someone the preferred candidate for a position. Be sure your reference sheet receives the same careful consideration and preparation as your resume. You should have a prepared reference sheet, separate from your resume, to provide upon request. A prospective employer will ask for work references once an applicant is considered a strong candidate for a position. Often this is requested following an interview. Do NOT submit your reference sheet along with your resume.

Who Should I Use for Reference? Begin by identifying past and current supervisors, peers, teachers or vendors who can attest to your work capabilities. Maybe you volunteered for a non-profit group. That is another viable reference source. You should have confidence that whomever you provide as a reference will provide a positive and accurate account of your work history; perhaps even a great example of a problem you resolved. Therefore, only use people who have that knowledge and information. This is stating the obvious, but don’t use someone as a reference if you had difficulties with that person in the past. Although a current supervisor or peers may be great sources for a reference, are you prepared to let others know you are seeking employment elsewhere? If not, stick with previous employers. Last, most companies today have a policy that prohibits supervisors from providing information other than title, dates of employment, and sometimes, last rate of pay. Ensure your references are allowed to provide additional information.

Obtain Permission Ask permission from your references before placing their name on your reference sheet. There is nothing worse than receiving a call and learning you’ve been named as a source of reference, and then scrambling to articulate accurate information off the cuff. And, that isn’t helpful to you. You may not receive the glowing reference you hope for. Once you obtain permission, include their full name, business credentials, title, and contact information. When a prospective employer requests your reference sheet, place a call to your references so they will know to expect a call and from whom. Unless, of course, when you asked for their permission you mentioned who might be calling for a reference check. As a matter of personal preference, I include how my reference and I are associated. For example, John Doe hired me at XYZ Corporation and was my manager for 4 years. Remember, preparing a reference sheet is an important aspect of the job search and treat it accordingly. Make sure your references are people who witnessed your work performance, including how you interacted with co-workers and customers; obtain their permission; and, provide accurate contact information. Last, don’t include references with your resume, rather, provide upon request. Now, go get that position you want.