How to Provide References With a Job Application

What to Do When Employers Request References in Advance

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In the past, employers typically waited to ask job applicants for references until they were serious contenders for a job. Now, more companies are asking applicants to provide a list of references when they apply for a job.

How to Provide References With a Job Application

For example, the job posting may read:

Required Applicant Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • List of Three References

or "To be considered for this position, please fill out an online profile and attach the following documents: cover letter, resume and list of three references."

When providing the company with references, don't list your references on your resume. Include a separate page with a list of three references (or whatever number the company asks for) and their contact information.

Who to Use as a Reference

Your list of references should include professional connections who can attest to your qualifications for the job. Your references don't have to be people who work at your current job, in fact you shouldn't use them if the company isn't aware you are job searching.

Instead, you could use colleagues from previous jobs, professors, clients or vendors, people you have worked with if you have volunteered or belonged to a church or sports group with, or a former employer. Another option, if you are short on references, is to use a personal reference who can attest to your character and abilities.

Permission and Confidentiality

It's always a good idea to ask for permission to use someone as reference in advance - before you give out their name.

Verify that you have the correct contact information and ask the reference how they want to contacted - phone, email, etc.

In addition, if you are currently employed ask your reference giver if they can keep your request confidential. You don't want your employer to find out through a third party that you're job searching.

Here's more information on who to use as a professional reference.

What to Include on a Reference List

The reference list should contain full contact information for each reference including name, job title, company, address and contact information. Here's a sample list of references to review.

If you are selected for an interview, print out copies of the list to bring with you, along with extra copies of your resume.

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