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10 Do’s and Don’ts for Providing Professional References

Whether the hiring manager wants to see your professional references before your first interview or at the final stage in their decision-making process, you want to be prepared.

Here are 10 “do’s and don’ts” of creating your List of Professional References

• DO…. Match your reference list to your resume. Aesthetically, it makes you look like you have your candidate profile together. Create the same heading at the top of each document, including your name and information, then match the fonts too.
• DO…. Give the hiring manager all the information that you can. Provide them with the reference’s name, number, email, current title, and a brief description of what your working relationship is/was. As a result, the hiring manager feels more comfortable reaching out and you’ve contributed to making the process easier on their end.
• DO…Tell the hiring manager that you’ve been in touch with each person to let them know that they can be expecting a phone call and that your references are welcoming to their outreach.
• DO… Maintain the proper contact information – be in the loop about your past colleagues’ career moves. It doesn’t look good if the hiring manager finds that your information about their name and current title are inconsistent with reality.
• DO… Include a variety of colleagues. You can include not only your superiors and direct supervisors, but if a lateral coworker, direct report, or close client has great things to say about you, their opinions and insight have great value, too!

• DO NOT… Only list old references. You might unintentionally send the message that your more recent work relationships were not as good.
• DO NOT… List friends. It’s okay to list coworkers who were friends, but you’ll want them to speak to more than just your friendliness.
• DO NOT… Assume that your references will say the right thing. It’s a best practice to send them the job description for the role that you’re being considered for or give them a brief overview of the position. This way, they can find ways to draw parallels between your previous experience and your future. They will better be able to highlight the important transferable skills.
• DO NOT… Let the call be a surprise to your reference. You want them to know the specific job and person who will be reaching out. It’s courteous to get their permission to list them as a reference. If they said yes months ago, you will want to reconnect with them so that they can expect an interrupting phone call during their day.
• DO NOT… Forget to express gratitude to your references. Who knows when you’ll need them again! Being appreciative of their time and support is worthwhile, and all in all, it’s the right thing to do.