References are always that weird anomaly of the application process. Do you send it ahead of time? How do you format it? Which people do you choose? The list goes on and on. The most important thing is to think ahead and be prepared. Here are some basic tips on how to get strong references and then how to format that list.
When thinking about references, think about it as a batting lineup for a baseball team. If you have 5-7 different people who you could contact for a job application, you have a wider variety of people to pull for your roster. And since those people all know you in a different capacity (as a student, employee, coworker), they can speak to different skills or abilities that you have. This provides flexibility in who you ask for references so you don’t exhaust certain people. There is nothing worse than using the same 3 people for multiple positions. It puts more strain on those individuals, but you could also ask for a standing letter if you need written recommendations for graduate school, which would only need a bit of fine-tuning on their part.
Prime your references. There is nothing worse than your reference being called and they are unprepared in some way. This can happen they are not in an environment to answer the questions in the best way. I have a friend, was a babysitter and used the parents as her reference. She was called while in the middle of the supermarket with 3 screaming children. That’s not going to be the best reference. Your reference may have known you for 5 years, but it’s always important to send an updated copy of your resume and the position description. This makes sure that your references are ready to give you the best possible recommendation.
When it comes to formatting your references page, consider prioritizing references depending on the position. Your potential employer may only call one of your references, so make sure you order them appropriately and describe your relationship and how long you have known them. Follow the link below to see an example of how to format it.
One last thing to consider when formatting your reference page is to focus on the overall appeal of the document. It should look polished, clean, professional and still be representative of your application. Use the same font, formatting, margins and header as you would with your cover letter and resume. Consider your references page as part of your overall presentation.
When it comes to the references page, it’s nothing to worry about if you stay on top of things. Make sure to get your cover letters and resume checked out by your Career Consultant or come stop by walk-in hours, every day from 12-2.
Alright world, it’s been real. It’s been fun. It’s been real fun.