How to Format a List of Professional References

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It is essential to ensure when you are applying for jobs that you have a list of references ready to give to your prospective employers. If you don’t, it will mean that you have to rush to create a list last minute, which is made more difficult when you have to seek permission from each reference. This article will help you to understand why you need recommendations, what type of references you need, how to get them, and how to send them out:

Related: The Ultimate Guide To The Interview Process

Why Do You Need Professional References? 

Professional references are essential when you are applying for jobs because they are what your potential employee uses to verify the information that you have told them in both your application and your interview. 

Your references will also be able to inform your new employee about your character and your abilities in the workplace. Some employees use candidates’ references as another factor that helps them to decide whether or not to hire them, so you must pick the right people to ask. Even if they aren’t a big part of the decision to hire someone, references may still get contacted, and what they say could impact your new employee’s first impressions. 

Professional vs. Personal References 

Wherever possible, it is always better to provide professional references over personal references. A professional recommendation should be somebody that you worked closely with, such as a supervisor or head of the department. It needs to be somebody that you worked quite closely with because they will know about your character, your work ethic, and what you contributed to the work environment.

Personal references can, however, be useful if you don’t have any work experience, or you have had to take some time off of work for some reason. A personal reference should know you well, so that they can speak about your character and integrity, but shouldn’t be a family member or spouse.

Steps to Take to Create a Reference Page 

Just like your CV and cover letter, your reference page needs to be well formatted, easy to understand, and free from any errors. There should be space on the application form for a reference list, or if there isn’t, you can provide your reference list to your potential employer at your interview. If you are submitting your CV, you should end it with a short sentence informing the employer that you will provide them with ‘references upon request.’

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Ask Permission 

ways to ask for references
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Before you add somebody to your list of references, you need to ensure that you have their permission. You should ask people who you know will be able to speak positively about you and know enough to let your potential employer know why you are the right candidate for the job. If you don’t ask permission, they may be taken by surprise and not give you as good a reference as they could have done if they had known. It is also an excellent chance to double-check their contact details.

Inform References Someone May Call Them 

Even if you have asked for permission to use someone as a reference, it is a good idea to inform them if you know they may be contacted. This is because it may have been a while since you asked to use them as a reference, and it can be a good idea to reach out and remind them. It is also polite to prepare them if you can before the phone call happens.

Remind References of Your Skills and Accomplishments 

If it has been a while since you have worked together, it can be a good idea to remind your reference about some of your skills and accomplishments when you are letting them know that someone might contact them. It is also an excellent opportunity to let them know some information about the job you’re applying for, and any key points that you would like them to emphasize.

Related: 20 Questions You Need To Ask When Hiring A Software Engineer

Who Should You Use?

Choosing the right reference is essential, and the person you ask may vary depending on the job you are applying for. It is a good idea to ask someone from your current workplace or your last place of employment. If you know somebody or have worked with somebody who has connections to the sector or business that you are applying to, this can also be a great reference. 

Try to focus on professional references, rather than personal references, unless they are asked for, you don’t have enough professional references, or the reference would be relevant to the job.

How Should You Ask? 

Where possible, you should always try and ask someone if they can provide you with a reference in person. Try to set up a meeting with them so that you can take the time to discuss it with them, without having to rush. If it is not possible to meet in person, you should either call or email them.

When you are asking someone if they will give you a reference, you need to make sure that you do it in a way that allows them to say no. It can be easy to accidentally make people feel like they have to say yes, so try to be polite and let them know they don’t have too.

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What You Need on a Reference Page 

things to include in a reference

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On your reference page, there is certain information that you need to include:

  • Start with your name at the top of the page.
  • Your references and their information with spaces between them.
  • The information about your references should include their name, your relationship to them, their job title, company, and contact information.

Example of a Reference Page 

References for Jane Doe

John Smith

Mars Medical Marketing Agency

347 S. Flower Street

Los Angeles CA 90017

J.Smith@greenway.com

201-887-4356

John Smith was my supervisor at my previous employer.

Conclusion 

References can be just as relevant as your application and interview when it comes to getting a new job. If you need more help, it might be a good idea to get in touch with a recruitment company like HIRECLOUT, who will be able to help you find jobs in the field you want to be in.

Related: How To Write A Cover Letter That Lands More Interviews

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