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two women with portfolioIn today’s competitive job market, prospective employers faced with the challenges of hiring qualified employees will check job references and interview past employers.  Checking your references is the only real means they have of verifying the skills and experience you presented in your resume and interview. Just one mediocre or poor reference could cost you the job.


  • When selecting your references, professional references who can speak to your skills, strengths, work performance, personal characteristics, capabilities and professional promise will carry much more weight with a potential employer than a personal reference from a neighbor or long-time family friend.  So when possible select current or past employers and academic faculty as references.
  • Select three to six people to serve as references. Having a mix of employers and academic faculty as references will provide a potential employer an overview of many aspects of your capabilities and characteristics.
  • Always request permission from the people you are going to list as references.  Do this prior to completing job applications and prior to any job interviews. If they gave you permission to use their names a long time ago, contact them again to renew their permission and alert them to a new job hunt.
  • Provide your references with a copy of your most recent resume to refresh their memories on your skills and accomplishments so they can speak intelligently about you with a potential employer who contacts them.
  • Type your references on a separate sheet; do not include on the resume.
  • In an attempt to present yourself and your job search credentials in an organized manner, be consistent and use the same format on your reference page that was used in the heading section of your resume (name, address, and phone).  Consider this heading as your letterhead and use on all correspondence to the potential employer including resume, cover letter and reference page.

page last updated 1/17/2017 9:17 AM