When you are in the final stages of the interview process you may be asked to provide an employer a list of references. Your references are people who can speak positively about you in a professional, academic or personal environment. These individuals would be contacted by your potential employer to discuss your strengths, weaknesses and overall suitability to the job.
Types of References
For a job interview, employment references are important. A past or present supervisor is preferred. Coworkers may be used, but it is important for the interviewer to speak with someone who oversaw your work and performance on the job.
If you are applying to post-graduate school or positions in academia, academic references are suitable. This may include a Professor, Teaching Assistant, Field Placement Coordinator, etc. These references can speak directly to your academic accomplishments and involvement.
Character references may also be considered. This type of reference would include individuals who have known you for several years and can speak to your personal character (i.e. community leader, lawyer, doctor, etc.). Family members and relatives do not qualify as a personal reference.
Obtaining your References
Depending on the type of interview you have, you can determine what type(s) of references are the most suitable for you.
- Identify 3 people who would provide positive feedback about you.
- Contact these individuals and ask their permission to be a reference for you.
- Obtain their most current contact information (name, title, company name, address, phone and email)
- Create a References Page that states the names, contact information and your relationship to each reference
Once you have created your reference page it is important that you keep all of your references informed of upcoming interviews or interviews you recently had. Provide them with:
- a copy of your resume
- a copy of the job description
- the name of the person that may be in contact with them and when they may call
Maintaining your References
As you move forward into employment or further education, you may not need to use your references for a period of time. If and when you are looking to change jobs, you may need to revisit your reference list and update your contact list. Staying in touch with your current references is always recommended. Obtaining permission from new references may also be required.
Once you have received a job offer or acceptance to a post-graduate program, it is a nice gesture to send a thank you email/card to your references for their help. After all, they helped you achieve your goal.