Once an employer is interested in your candidacy, he
will ask for references. This is part of
the due diligence that precedes a job offer. This
section will help you navigate this process, from asking
someone to be a reference to informing him that he may
receive a phone call imminently.
Following are some key points you should consider in
relation to employment references:
- Who should you ask to be a reference? This
may sound obvious, but you should ask someone that
you know will give you a good reference. That
person will probably be your direct supervisor or
someone who oversaw your work in some capacity.
Call that person and ask if he is open to being your
reference. Pay attention to how he responds as
you ask him.
- Did this person work closely with you?
There are many factors that you need to consider,
one of them being whether your reference will be
able to answer basic questions about your work.
For instance, if you had a direct supervisor at your
prior job and chose not to have him act as your
reference, that may raise some suspicions.
- Will this person be in position to answer
questions about your qualifications and
interpersonal skills? Same as above, but here
we also emphasize your interpersonal skills, in
addition to your qualifications.
- Is this person busy or often out of town?
If you know that someone will be on vacation,
business trip or extended leave, you may consider
asking someone else to be your reference, unless you
work out an arrangement with that person so that he
will be available on a as needed basis.
- Is this person diligent in answering calls?
Some people are just bad at answering or returning
calls. It's not so much that they are in bad
faith, but that they are disorganized. You
don't want their bad work ethics to impact your job
- How should you go about when asking someone to
be your reference? It depends on your
relationship with that person. If you're
confident about that person, an email may be enough.
If you're not so sure, you may want to give him a
phone call or drop by his office and ask in person.
- Should you provide the person you are asking to
be your reference with information? You should
provide the person you ask to be your reference with
some background about the position you are seeking
and a copy of your latest resume. That person
will be curious about your job search and will want
to have some basic questions addressed. It is
also a good idea to provide that person with some
background so that he can tailor his answers to give
- Should you keep your reference updated with
regard to the status of your job search?
Definitely. As a matter of courtesy, you
should keep that person in the loop, whether or not
you land the job.
Should you state your references in your resume?
That is not necessary, unless the job posting
expressly asks for references upfront.
Normally, employers will only ask for references at
the job interview.