When looking for a job, references can give you the edge over other qualified candidates. But good references don't just happen, they need to be created, coached and informed. Choose people that know you and your work. A well known top executive may be an attention getter on your reference list but if he's contacted, and hasn't heard of you, then you are sunk. Make sure your references know who you are, what you can offer a potential employer and that you are looking for a new position.
Get permission from a source before you put them on your reference list. Confirm all appropriate information and find out how they wish to be contacted. Another good idea is to go over what important skills you would like your reference to highlight. If more then one reference refers to the same highlighted skill you will come off as a shining star.
Written references in the form of letters of recommendation can also be an important job seeker tool. Get letters of recommendation throughout your career and collect them with other awards and achievements and place everything in a "Prove It" file. Keep this file handy to present whenever you are asked about your past job experiences.
If you are applying for a very competitive position you need to carefully think about your references. The last thing you would want to happen is to have your co-worker, who was listed as a reference, get offered the job you were interviewing for. Use references that can speak highly about your skills but aren't necessarily doing the same job.
Finally, do not list your references on your resume. When interviewing you should have a typed list of references with contact information ready to be handed out when asked for.
If you follow these simple guidelines you will have complete success with this important part of the job search process.
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