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Professional References

Your resume may get you an interview, but your references will get you the job. Don’t underestimate the power of your references. They can be the difference in being hired or not, so don’t take them lightly. When choosing job references for your resume, careful consideration should be given. One bad, lukewarm, or incomplete reference could be the deciding factor between you and another qualified candidate.

Strong references are part of your overall marketing program to land a job. Many employers, both government and private will not allow their human resource personnel to give out any information on existing or former employees. This includes both positive and negative information. They are afraid of lawsuits.

Yes, there is a contradiction here. Employers want to check references but they will not always give them out. About the only information human resource departments will give is confirmation you once worked there. So you need to select your own references and try to include former supervisors.

In these difficult economic times, it pays to market yourself well. Be prepared with excellent references when your prospective employer requests them.

Tips On References:
· A good reference candidate is someone who has known you at least one year—preferably three. A reference list should include four or five of the following: Former/present supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, former professors, and professional colleagues from work-related associations or volunteer work. We recommend listing three to five references.

· Keep in mind that even if you don’t list a former employer as reference, they will be contacted and interviewed, which makes it a very good reason to include one or two on your list.

· A good reference candidate should be someone who bolsters and confirms the details of your resume and offers positive feedback regarding your work or educational skills and experience. Therefore, you need to personally speak to every reference you are going to use to make sure they are willing to give you a “glowing” recommendation. Do not use the name of individuals that you have not spoken to specifically. Confirm their phone number, address, and preferred method of contact. Provide them with your resume so they are up to date on all your qualifications.

· Professional references do not include clergy, family doctors, friends or relatives. Only previous employers and academic instructors should be used as a source of professional reference.

· Check your own references, when possible, to ensure their quality and enthusiasm. Remember you should choose those individuals who have enough knowledge to be able to give you a “glowing” recommendation and can sell you to employers.

List your references on a separate sheet of paper (same quality of paper as your resume) using the heading and format below:


Mr. John D. Green
Senior Bank Officer First Tennessee
1422 West First Street
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2230
(Former Employer)

Dr. Jewell Powell
Assistant Professor
The University of Memphis
Fogelman College of Business and Economics
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2213
(Faculty Member)

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Last Updated: 12/4/11