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References and Recommendations

Many job and graduate school applications include a space for you to include several references. Hiring managers can contact your references to learn more about your strengths, skills and previous experience that make you a qualified candidate. Securing references, creating a reference page and obtaining letters of recommendation is easy just follow these simple guidelines.

There are two kinds of references – professional and personal. Professional references include your job supervisors and coworkers, while personal references might include your church minister. It is standard practice to include three professional references and one personal reference. List professional references first and then include personal references. Always ask someone before listing them as a reference; you don’t want to give out their contact information without permission. Furthermore, to protect the confidentiality of your references, don’t list their information on your resume. Resumes travel far and wide and can sometimes fall into the wrong hands. Create a separate reference page that can easily be attached to your resume.

When creating a reference page, include the same header that is on your resume to make it look professional. Then list your references. Include each reference’s name, job title, employer, address, phone number and email. If it isn’t clear from the information provided, specify your relationship to your reference. Double check to make sure that you have provided the correct contact information. You don’t want a hiring manager to accidentally contact the wrong person or send an undeliverable email – this will reflect poorly on your application.

Once you have a reference page, send your references the most recent version of your resume. Most importantly, let them know when you apply to a job or program and give them the basic information. Also, tell them if they should expect a call from a hiring manager soon so that they aren’t caught off guard. Continue to update them as needed.

You can also ask your references to write you letters of recommendation for jobs or schools. Make sure to give your references the information they need to write you a letter – this information includes the name of the school or job, a description of the position or program, and your key skills and experience that make you a qualified candidate. Always give your references at least a week or two to write you a letter of recommendation – avoid waiting until the last minute!

Update your reference page often, always including at least three people whom the hiring manager can contact. Keep your references current with a recent copy of your resume and update them on your job search. Most importantly, thank them for their time in helping you achieve your plans for the future. If you need more assistance or have questions about references, come visit the Career Center today!