It’s incredibly important to find the right resume references when you’re searching for a new job. Every recruiter and HR manager can tell stories about resume references that go south for the candidate, and ultimately, cost them the job. So who should you include on your reference list during your job search—and who should you skip altogether?
Avoid the Reference That You Haven’t Spoken to in Years
If you’re job hunting you must take the time, every time, to reach out to your references to tell them they might be getting a call from a potential employer. Let them know who might be calling and what the job entails so they can be prepared to support you in your search. Do not list someone that you haven’t talked to in ages; they might end up inadvertently sabotaging your process. You may not even have their correct contact information anymore—and that will make you look ill-prepared.
Skip the Person That You Don’t Know Well
If you haven’t worked directly with the reference you should probably avoid listing them on your resume. The problem is that when the interviewer starts to pepper them with questions, they may have to say that they just don’t know the answer. Shallow answers won’t sell your candidacy to the company, so pick someone who really knows your character and your work very well.
Do Not List Family Members As References
We know your Mom and Dad think you have a sterling character, but please don’t list them as references on your resume (this really happens). In fact, avoid listing any family members; instead, focus on close co-workers or managers who spent time working closely with you on the job.
Do Not Use Friends, Either
Having a friend or roommate act as a reference isn’t very professional. The information they provide will not be accurate unless you actually worked with them on the job. We’ve seen candidates list references with very professional titles only to find out later that they listed their roommates.
If You’ve Been Fired, It’s a Good Idea to Not Use Them as a Reference
You would be surprised that candidates actually list their former boss as a reference, even with the employer fired them. Generally, firing means you’re not leaving the company on good terms, so don’t rub salt in the wound by asking your former employer to serve as a reference. We’re pretty sure it just won’t go well.
So, Who Should You Ask?
It’s a good idea to make sure your references are a good fit for the company you’re applying to. Prep your reference so they understand what qualities they need to play up with the employer to help you land the job. So, who should do the work of serving as a reference on your resume?
- A former employer is a great reference if you can get them. If you have a supervisor that would be willing to give you a reference, that would look great on your application.
- A colleague that you worked or collaborated with at a former job. They should be able to speak to hard skills, such as the software you know or the skills you have.
- If you have a teacher or a professor, they can serve as a great reference to the quality of your work in the classroom. They also should have a good sense of what your moral character is like.
Contact us for career support
The team at A.C.Coy Company is willing to give your resume a professional once-over. Reach out today for career support—we can help.