How Reference Lists Maximize Job Applications

By Joyce Lain Kennedy

Reference lists are “people” lists provided when an employer wants to “check references” before hiring you for a job. Usually a one-page document (sometimes two pages), a reference list is delivered at an employer’s request. At a minimum, a reference list provides names with contact information for each person on it.

An ideal reference list adds perspective by summarizing the basis of your relationship with each reference and includes the qualifications you possess that the individual reference can address.

Your reference list can include more than your immediate supervisor, department manager, and HR contacts. Think about obtaining references from second-level management people who direct a division or a unit of a department.

You want to create a reference list separate from your resume to avoid the risk of reference fatigue. You don’t want to burn out your references by giving too many casual callers access to their names and contact information. Employers typically don’t spend the time and money to check references until after you’re interviewed and are on the short list of potential hires.

Sending reference lists or recommendation letters with your resume to recruiters isn’t a cool idea. Recruiters may assume that the documents either are bogus or were written by close friends, to make you come across as a desperate and weak candidate.

Here are three samples presented in different formats:

[Credit: Dan Dorotik, NCRW — Lubbock, Texas]

Credit: Dan Dorotik, NCRW — Lubbock, Texas
[Credit: Jane Roqueplot, CPBA, CWDP, CECC — West Middlesex, Pa.]

Credit: Jane Roqueplot, CPBA, CWDP, CECC — West Middlesex, Pa.
[Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.]

Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.