After combing through job boards, finally finding one that interests you, and getting your resume and cover letter ready, the last thing you’re probably interested in is assembling a reference list. You may even think: “this hiring manager will never reach out to my references because they never do.”
We know the power of an awesome reference list, so we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to help you update. Get those names organized, then go get it!
DO ASK FOR PERMISSION
Before you add your former employer or professor to your reference list, be sure to ask them for their permission. We’ve all heard this rule before, but it’s harder than it sounds when you’re strapped for time or uncomfortable with asking. Give them a call or shoot them a quick email with some specifics: explain the type of jobs you are applying for, why you’re choosing them, and then ask if it would be okay to list them as a reference.
DON’T INCLUDE SOMEONE UNLESS YOU’RE ON GREAT TERMS
This may also seem like a given, but it’s definitely an important one to reiterate. If you left a job on less than great terms, lacked a good working relationship with any former employer/employee, or question what that person may say about you when talking with a recruiter, even if you’re just not sure how well they remember you—then don’t add them to your reference list.
DO BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT LISTING YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER
If your current place of employment is unaware you’re seeking new job opportunities, listing them as a reference would be a horrible way for them to find out. It’s not only unprofessional, but it will damage your relationship and possibly cost you the company you’ve applied to.
DON’T LIST TOO MANY CONTACTS FROM THE SAME COMPANY
Your future employer wants to see variety in the types of employment, employers, contacts, and professional references they see listed. If you have six people listed from the same company, the hiring manager might think that you lack connections and successful partnerships throughout your career.
Those six references might be awesome, but limit it to one or two per workplace. Mix it up.
And one last don’t: leave off any family members from your reference list no matter how aware of your work experience they may be.
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