A professional reference has experience working with you. They can share their experiences with a potential employer to provide insight into your workplace performance.
Including an adequate number of references with your job application helps form a positive impression of you. Understanding which professionals to list as references increases the odds of advancement in the hiring process.
Discover how many references you should have for a job application and how to choose the best professionals:
Base Your Number of References on the Job
Unless stated otherwise in the application process, you should provide three references for a nonmanagement role and six references for a management role. Taking on more responsibility and leading a team require additional insight into your work style and qualifications.
Choose Your Best References
Your most effective references worked with you and know a significant amount about your professional background. Examples include:
- A mentor who can describe how you developed your skills and experience and accomplished goals.
- A direct supervisor who evaluates the quality of your work.
- A manager who can attest to your ability to follow directions.
- A former colleague who can verify your performance.
- A former coworker who can discuss your ability to collaborate and overcome challenges.
Properly List Your References
List your references in a document separate from your cover letter and resume. Consider which is the strongest reference to begin your list. Your options include:
- Your reference who has the greatest knowledge of your work style and abilities.
- Your reference who has known you the longest.
- Your reference with the closest knowledge of your industry contributions.
Include specific details in your reference list:
- First and last name
- Job title
- Employer name
- Employer address
- Work email address
- Preferred phone number
- Relationship to you
Prepare Your References
Let your references know an employer might contact them to discuss their experiences working with you. Explain the status of your job search and how a review of your credentials can help you secure a new role. This notification provides time for your references to consider what they would like to say about your performance.
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