In part 1 of this series, I answered some common questions candidates have regarding their resumes – things like what types and how much information to include. Today, we’ll examine another key part of the hiring equation: your references. Candidates often ask whether they should include references on their resume. Here are a few tips on handling this, in addition to how to choose your references and prep your references for the interview:
- As a general rule you should have references available, but it’s not necessary to list them on your resume. It’s not even necessary to put “References available upon request” on your resume – if I need your references, I’ll ask for them. Save that space for something more important.
- Talk to your references ahead of time and let them know a potential employer may be calling them. By contacting your references it helps them to be prepared, which benefits you.
- When you speak with your references, consider giving each reference unique “talking points” to discuss. Talking points help keep your references focused on positive stories about you and your abilities and give you some control over the image they are projecting of you. However, remember that these talking points must be true! If an employer has reason to think you or your references aren’t completely honest, you will lose out on the job you’ve been working so hard to get.
- References may be former employers, people you have worked with, or even family – but consider each one carefully and choose based on the ones you feel can give the best reference for the position you are seeking. Yes, this means your list of references will vary depending on the job to which you’re applying.
- Family members aren’t always ideal references because they are (hopefully!) more biased in your favor than a typical reference. But this doesn’t mean family members can’t be used. If you use a family member, explain why they’re being used as a reference to the potential employer. For example, you may have worked with them at a family-owned business. As I discussed above, employers value honesty, so being honest about the relationship and disclosing everything will not leave anyone wondering.
If you’ve been with me since part 1, you’ve now learned what to include in your resume and how to deal with references. So you’re ready to go, right? Not quite yet! Join me for part 3, when I’ll discuss how to avoid some of the most common last-second mistakes that trip people up right before submitting a resume. And if you have any questions, please feel free to post them below in the comments section!