Your resume has been saved. The cover letter is complete. Now, all that stands between you and your finished application is your list of references. Easy. This part should take a few minutes, right? After all, you’ve known good ole Stan (or Dan or Jan) for decades. Stan and the gang are your go-to references for everything in your job search. He uses a nice letterhead and will promptly reply to an email or phone call.
But stop for a minute. What has Stan said or done in the past to help you land your ideal job? What has the reference of a former supervisor or coworker done to set you apart from the other hopeful candidates? Chances are that you have never really put that much effort into such questions. Many have never paused to question the value of solid and professional references when applying for a job and being considered a top candidate.
Who you choose as a resume reference is important!
It’s time to recognize the importance of the strategic and intentional process of developing a list of references. These select few professional individuals must not only attest that you were a former employee and a decent person but should be able to speak to your knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to your experiences as a stellar employee. Such experience will, in turn, largely determine what kind of a future you have working for your company of interest. Many times a person may be willing to serve as a reference for you but will not necessarily serve you well. Make sure that your reference choices are widespread enough to speak to the different facets of your career and can recall plenty of experiences that will highlight your strengths and display your aptitude.
If this is an area of your job search process that has been overlooked or rushed through, we urge you to take the time to reconsider your references. This list should be more than just names and numbers. If it is done well, this documentation can allow you to soar above the other candidates with purposeful and pertinent facts that will describe your unique reasoning for being hired. We are ready to help with our References Dossier Creation. Give your references consideration and expect some for yourself in return!
This article was originally published in April 2015 and has been recently updated.