After spending significant time and work preparing your resume and cover letter, then going through the interview process, professional references may seem like an afterthought. But they are still required before many employers will extend a job offer.
Professional references don’t have to be a stressor.
References are a great way for employers to determine if you’re a cultural fit for their organization. They can illuminate your resume by offering additional insights into your work ethic and background. Providing the right references can make the difference between a job offer and more searching, but it shouldn’t stress you out. Here are the types of people you should include as references:
- People who’ve managed you. Try to give your most recent boss or bosses, as they are considered most important to potential employers. But, if your boss from five years ago can attest to your superior performance and team-leading results, you might want to include him or her.
- People you used to work with. Your former co-workers can provide great insights into your ability to work on a team, and your enthusiasm for your work. If you can provide references outside of your employers – think vendors, strategic partners, even clients, those can be incredibly effective at helping land you a job.
- People from college or university. Did you attend college or grad school within the past few years? If you have enough professional experience, you might not need to include educational references (unless you have a compelling reason to), but for recent graduates and newer entries to the workplace, former professors can provide excellent insights into your character, industry knowledge and commitment to work.
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