A good reference is an important part of job search success

By Carol Timlin

Carol Timlin is the Executive Director of VCCS Employment Services.

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At some point during your job search you will need to provide references. A reference is someone who can vouch for the skills and experience you say you have on your resume. Most employers will check references. It’s good to line up your references when you start your job search. That means calling the person you want to use as a reference and asking their permission to use their name and contact information.

A rule of thumb is to provide at least three references. If possible two of the references should be work related. Ideally it should be a direct supervisor who can provide work related examples to the questions asked. Your second work reference could be someone else from the company or a co-worker. Your third reference is often someone from your personal life. Someone who has known you for several years and can vouch for your character.

It is often asked if references should be provided along with your cover letter and resume. Unless the job posting asks for references to be included, we often suggest that references be provided to an employer at the job interview. That way you can tailor your references to the position.

When providing references include the person’s name, their job title, company information, phone number and email address. Employers can then decipher who they want to contact and what method of contact they want to use. Most employers will call a reference directly so make sure that the phone number you provide is easily accessible. Lastly be sure and give your references a heads-up that you have a job interview, and someone may be calling them. Provide them with information on the company, job title and duties. Your reference will appreciate the notice and be prepared when someone does call.

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