The following rules are important when considering references for your job search:
- Always ask a person for permission before you use them as a reference. You want to be sure the person you ask is not surprised by a call and that they are willing to give you a positive report. According to a survey by Accountemps, 34% of job candidates are removed from consideration for a job after their references are checked.
- Do not list your references (or “references by request”) on your resume. You want to shield your references from being bothered by every potential employer—they should receive a call only from employers who consider you a strong candidate.
- If a former or current boss is not a good reference for you, look for options: a different manager or supervisor in the company who is familiar with your work; a coworker; a vendor or customer with whom you worked closely; or someone who provided a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. If you made a significant contribution as a volunteer in a nonprofit, you should be able to find someone there willing to act as a reference for your job search.
- Hiring managers and recruiters might ask your references about your strengths and weaknesses (38% of managers according to the Accountemps survey), so make sure your resume is accurate and that your references have a copy to refer to. You do not want to be caught in a lie or put your references in an awkward position at this stage of the process.
- Your resume can be used to provide “recommendations” in two ways. First, you can include information gathered from your reviews at work. For example, a reviewer might score you particularly high on collaboration with colleagues, a fact you can add to your resume. Second, you should list relevant awards, speaking engagements, and publications which show that you are respected by your peers and industry.