Professional references

Be sure to have a list of professional references ready for your job search
Almost all employers will ask you for a list of professional references

What is a list of professional references?

A list of professional references is a document an employer will ask for near the end of a job interview process. It is a list of 2-4 of your coworkers and managers, along with their contact information. Do not list friends or family unless you have to. If someone asks you for a reference list, it is a good sign. It means that you have a good chance of getting hired. The employer will call your references to ask questions about you. He or she will ask them what it was like to work with you and what type of work you did. They may ask what your strengths and weaknesses are and if the person would like to work with you again.

Who should be a reference?

It is smart to create a list of professional references as soon as you start looking for a job. Call your coworkers and tell them you are searching for a job. Ask them it is OK if you share their information. If they have not heard of this process, explain it to them. Tell them what type of job you are interviewing for so they know what to say about you. For example, if you are interviewing for a job as a bank teller, they should say you have good math and customer service skills.

Choose people that you got along with and would say kind things about you. If you can, it is better to contact managers and not just coworkers. It is better to list people you have worked within the US. It is best if you have references from full-time work. If you have done volunteer work or part-time work, the people you have worked with can be references too.

If you have never worked in the US, it is OK to list references from another country. In this case, write what time the person would be available to speak. This is important because of time differences. You can also say that that you reference would like to be contacted over the phone. This is sometimes easier for both the employer and your reference. Here is a short video about the process:

Information to include

You need to gather specific types of information for the list of professional references. It is important to include their phone number, email, and the name of the company. Write the full address of your workplace. Also, write about how you and your reference worked together. Were you in the same position or were they your boss? Make sure that you use the same style and font as your resume.

You can find an example of how to write a reference list here.

Once you have your resume and references ready, the next step is to learn how to fill out a job application. 

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