When to Share Professional Job References

When to Share Professional Job References 

When to Share Professional Job References

Personal and Professional References, and how and when to present them at the right time.


Should you provide references on your resume?

References should be furnished only upon request. Check with your contacts, find out which ones to use as references, and what they will say about you. Instead of supplying references on your resume, use this space to add other important skills, work experience and to highlight your accomplishments.


Professional References

Include the following information when you provide a professional reference: reference’s name, job title, company, address, phone number and (if acceptable to your reference) an e-mail address. Including a reference’s job title can help promote your image if the person’s title or position is similar to the job or industry you are pursuing.

Employers are interested in feedback about you from someone in a related field or in a position of responsibility who can judge your work experience, professionalism and reliability. For example, if you are seeking a sales executive position, provide three professional references from a respected sales manager, a business owner, and your direct supervisor.

These references build credibility for you as a professional and show you have contacts in the sales field. More than likely, you will be asked in what capacity you know the references, such as a former employer, co-worker, or business associate. 


Personal References

When listing personal references, include your reference’s name, job title, address (ask references if they prefer you to use their business or personal address) and phone number. If the personal reference is a co-worker, it can be beneficial to point this out.


Ask Permission to Use References

Prior to providing a reference list, ask each of your references for permission to use them as a reference. It’s also to your benefit to let them know the types of positions you will be applying for and what skills are needed in those positions. Then ask them to discuss what they believe to be your best talents, traits, or skills when speaking with prospective employers that contact them.


Who are your best references?

The most important references are generally your superiors. If possible, include at least two previous employers as references. In contacting previous supervisors, potential employers are looking for information about the contribution you made to that firm. Subordinates and peers should emphasize your ability to be a team player.

Clients should highlight your customer service skills and interpersonal communication skills. Most employers require at least three references. It would be good to provide four or five references. For example, include two previous supervisors, a subordinate, a peer or volunteer coordinator, and a client). If you have not had work experience, use professors as references.


What reference information should you provide?

Include all the information that a potential employer might wish to know. Include how long you have known this person, the best time to call, and their relationship to you (personal or professional). Some references prefer to be called at work, so give a work address and phone number unless they specifically wish to be contacted at home.


Where should you include these references?

Your references should not be part of your resume. Attach them as a separate sheet behind your resume, but only if employers ask. 


Common questions that employers ask references

  • What is your relationship to the applicant?
  • How long have you known them?
  • Would you hire them again?
  • Was he or she usually punctual, or ever late to work? 
  • Describe how he or she works with other people.
  • Tell me about his or her job performance.


  • Is there anything else you could tell me that might give me a better feel for this person?

Do You Know What Your References Are Going to Say About You?

It’s best to talk to your references before you send their names to a prospective employer. They will be more prepared to give an appropriate appraisal of your character if you have made them aware that they will be receiving a call from an employer. It’s also a good idea to furnish the references with a job description and specific background information that may be helpful for them to mention to the prospective employer.

Another option is to furnish the employer with a letter of recommendation. Some employers skip formal reference checking if they have a letter of recommendation in hand. If you are asked to provide reference letters, and if the references do not oppose, you can write the letters yourself and have the reference sign it. This way you have full control over what is said. Ensure that reference letters are current, accurate and written on the reference’s letterhead.


Thank Your References

As a common courtesy, you should send your references a letter of thanks for taking time out of their busy schedules to help you. Also keep them posted on how things are progressing with your job search.

List and Prep your Business Contacts

Most people don’t realize how many people they can use as references. It could be current or past co-workers, bosses or supervisors, clients, sales reps, business owners, or other professionals you regularly deal with.

You would be surprised to know who will gladly say nice things about you in a reference call, and you might also be surprised to know who might not want to give a reference or give a negative one. The way to tell which will be the better reference to use, is to talk to your references in advance and find out what they will say about you.

When you call your reference contact, ask if they prefer to be contacted on their mobile phone, by personal or company e-mail. Make sure you get approval from your reference prior to them being contacted.

When you talk to your reference, outline a game plan of what you’re trying to achieve and what you expect from them. It’s important to emphasize confidentiality during these discussions. You might want to discuss how you met, and how long you’ve know each other, since these questions might come up. If the reference is close enough to you, you may also want to share the position you’re applying for, and who will be calling them for the reference.

Do the Same for Personal Contacts

Employers check personal references to get a feeling for your character. Again, you can outline the same game plan when you contact them. Ask the same questions, like how long you have known each other, how you know them, and what they are expected to say about you.

Keep In Touch With Your References

It’s a good idea to always keep in touch with your references, and update them periodically. You never know who your references can put you in touch with. These extended networks could mean a job lead or interview. Send them a quick e-mail or give them a phone call to give them your updated information.


How Interviewing with Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search

How Interviewing with Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search

How Interviewing with Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search

A Job-Seekers Guide to Interviewing with Recruiters

You’ve probably heard of “headhunters”, “recruiters”, and “search firms” by now. If you are new to the job market or a veteran looking to make a move to a new organization, you should know the distinctions between these types of firms. Typically, they are third-party organizations that help individuals find temporary and direct hire jobs. Here’s how it’s broken down:

  • Contract Recruiters: Typically, an employer will hire recruiters from a contract staffing firm to represent them in the recruiting and employment function. The recruiters have an arrangement with the organization to “place” contract workers at the customer site for a period of time, sometimes ranging from as short as a few weeks to longer periods, in some cases a year or more. This might be important information for someone applying for a contract position at a company.


  • Employment Agencies: Employment agencies work with companies that seek to hire professionals. The employment agencies submit resumes of qualified candidates to the companies, which interview the candidates and ultimately pay a fee to the employment agency if a selected candidate is “placed.” In most cases, the placement fee is paid by the company (client) working with the employment agency. In very rare cases, the candidate pays a fee to the employment agency to be placed at an organization. If you come across a job listing that does not include the phrase “fee paid”, be sure to ask who pays the fee before signing any papers. The types of positions that you might see a candidate paying a fee to an agency is retail sales, customer service representative, or a laborer position. These specific types of agencies can be found throughout the country.
  • Resume Referral Firms: A resume referral firm collects information on job seekers and forwards it to prospective employers. This information can be contained in resumes or on paper or electronic data forms. The employer, job seeker, or both might pay fees. You must give the firm written permission to pass your resume on to employers. Your permission should include a statement that expressly states to whom and for what purpose the information can be used.
  • Contingent Search Firms: A search firm contracts with employers to find and screen qualified applicants to fill a specific position. Contingent Search firm representatives will disclose to the candidate which employer they represent in the interview qualifying process. The fees for these firms are paid by the employer. The fee charged is either a flat fee equivalent to 20% to 30% of the candidate’s first year salary, or an hourly fee paid to the search firm to locate a qualified candidate. 






Questions to Ask a Recruiter


Here’s where you need to be a wise consumer. While third-party recruiters exist to help you in your job search, read all materials carefully before signing anything.  

Here are some general questions you may want to ask:

  • How many job openings are there for someone in my field? If you have the opportunity, inquire about the positions being filled or the number of openings related to your field. These are important questions because, in some instances, recruiters may not really have the type or number of openings they advertise. They may be more interested in adding your name to their candidate pool as a means of attracting more employers or clients to their services. Or they may be collecting resumes for future job opportunities.
  • How is this information being used? A third-party recruiter is legally allowed (with your permission of course) to share your resume with the contract employer for positions that you are actually seeking. The recruiter must tell you, in clear terms, that your materials and information will not be shared outside the organization or used for any purpose other than with the company they represent at the time they interview you. The third-party recruiter cannot sell your information to anyone else. You may choose to authorize the recruiter to share your data elsewhere, but your authorization should be given to the recruiter in writing.
  • Are candidates treated equally and fairly? If you are qualified for the job opportunity (after an interview screening of course), the third-party recruiter must pass your information to employers without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

Who pays the placement services fee? Before you agree to anything or sign a contract, ask the recruiter who will pay the fee. He/she will normally tell you upfront who the fee is paid by, but you must ask anyway to be clear.