Employers usually ask for a job reference page (a list of people who can vouch for your skills and qualifications) before they make a hiring choice. That means you need to have a reference page ready so when someone asks for one, you can respond quickly.
Let’s talk about how to write a job reference page that helps you put your best foot forward.
When You Need a Job Reference Page
In most cases, you won’t need a job reference page until the end of a job interview.
As a rule, you should NOT include your job reference page with your resume. Why? It’s a matter of keeping the information private. Your references have agreed to let you give their contact info to your potential employers. But they most likely don’t want that info sent out to just anyone who says they have a job opening. There are a lot of job scams out there and those bad guys really want the kind of info you’ll have on your reference page. Protect the privacy of your references by giving their contact info only to employers you know and trust.
Instead of sending it with your resume, bring your job reference page to the interview and offer it to the recruiter or manager only if you are asked for it. (By the way, if you ARE asked for a reference page, it’s a good sign. It means the manager is thinking of you as a job candidate and he wants to take the next step of checking your references.)
Once in a while, you’ll be asked to send your job reference page with your resume before the interview. In that case, go along with the request if it’s a job you really want and you trust the company you’re applying to.
Asking Someone to Be a Job Reference
There are two types of job references: professional and personal. Try to have three or four professional references and one or two personal references on your job reference page.
A professional reference might be a former supervisor, team leader, Human Resources manager, or even a co-worker. Personal references might include your minister (priest or rabbi), non-profit leader, school counselor or instructor, or any respected person from your personal life (other than one of your family members).
Here are a few tips for asking someone to be on your reference list.
- Ask each person you’d like on your job reference page if they are willing to put in a good word for you. If you have any question that they might not say something good about you, don’t ask them to be a reference!
- Check that the contact info you have for each person is correct and okay to give your prospective employers.
- Make sure you send each of your references a copy of your current resume, explain what job you’re applying for, and, if you can, include a copy of the job post.
Once you know who will be on your list, you’re ready to put together your job reference page.
Creating Your Job Reference Page
When you create your job reference page, use the same letterhead (your name and contact info at the top of the page) that you used on your resume. That extra touch will give it a clean consistent look because all your job search documents, including your cover letter, will match.
Under your letterhead, type this info for each of your job references. Start with your professional references and end with your personal ones.
Title at his or her company
City, State and Zip
Home Phone (if it’s a personal reference, rather than a professional reference)
Relationship to you (if it’s not clear from your resume and cover letter)
Skills/projects of yours that this reference might discuss (optional)
Sample Job Reference Page
To see all these tips in action, take a look at this sample job reference page.