As you prepare to submit the resume and references you’ve compiled while job hunting, it is important to make sure that your references will be there for you. Far too often, references are contacted for potential candidates 3-5 times before hearing anything back. If you haven’t informed your references that they should be on the look-out for a call from a potential employer, they might be caught off guard and not have answers prepared.

How can you prepare for reference checks on your resume? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing a list of references for you job search.

1.) Stay in touch with your references: It is always harder than it sounds, but take some time a few times a year to write a note, see how they’re doing, and let them know of your career changes. This will give your reference the opportunity to see what you have been up to and how your career has grown. This is especially important when you are applying for a new job after a few years and one of your references is an employer from a few years ago. The sporadic update you have given them throughout the year will allow for them to still speak highly of you even though you haven’t worked with them in a few years.

2.) Make sure your contact’s numbers and email addresses are up-to-date: One of the biggest mistakes we see is using an unprofessional email addresses or a phone number that is inaccurate. This not only creates a delay in receiving information about your employment and work history, but can create extra work for your potential future employer. There’s nothing more embarrassing than being told your references aren’t giving any information because the wrong information was listed!

3.) Make sure your reference is allowed to speak for you on the company’s behalf: Many times, background check specialists are informed that a reference is not allowed to disclose working relationship information or employment verification per the company’s policy. If you would like to use a co-worker or manager as a personal reference, make sure to double check the company policy so that your reference will be allowed to talk about their time with you.

4.) Make sure your personal references have some experience with you in a professional capacity: When applying for a professional job, you want to have people who know your work and personal skills. While professional references are necessary, a personal reference from someone who has worked with you in a volunteering or similar situation can attest to your capabilities and strengths outside of the workplace.

Now go ahead and reach out to those references you’ve had listed for the past three years and make those connections perfect for the next time you have to use them.

Have any other good tips for preparing references for your resume? Let us know in the comments!


By: Sarah Kessler