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Learn About the Importance of References on Your Resume

Do you need a list of professional references as part of your job search?

Despite what you may have been led to believe, the answer is a solid “yes.” In many cases, potential employers will contact your references at some point, most likely closer to the end of the hiring process. And, those references can have a significant impact on your ability to land a desired job.

Why are references important?

It’s a crazy world out there, so employers often check references as part of overall background searches to make sure you are who you say you are. A significant percentage of job seekers lie – or at least embellish the truth – on their resumes. And even after a candidate has been interviewed, companies still want verification to avoid costly hiring mistakes.

  • References allow employers to learn more about your personality, work style, and how you would approach and fit into a specific role. And, they can help a hiring manager who is teetering between two candidates to make their final decision. So yeah, a lot is resting there.
  • What’s the best way to select and handle references?

    Choose your references wisely and build a strategic list of options.

    Consider in what context a person knows you, your work, your skills, and your best accomplishments. Ideally, build up a toolbox of references – a master list of all those who are willing to vouch for you.

  • Include a variety: a former manager, a colleague you’ve worked successfully with, and someone you’ve collaborated with in a crisis, for starters. Then, when asked, you can provide a customized version including the individuals who can best speak to your strengths that are most relevant for the specific job.
  • Recent graduates can turn to former professors, coaches, internship supervisors, or supervisors from extracurricular activities or volunteer experiences.
  • Keep in touch with your references throughout your job search. Let them know whenever you hand over their contact information and ask them to contact you if a potential employer reaches out to them.

  • Keep them informed of every position you apply for so they aren’t caught off guard when they are contacted.
  • Show your appreciation. Send a thank-you note every time a reference helps you. And when you accept a job offer, they should all get a phone call so you can thank them in person – followed up by a handwritten note. There’s no reason to go overboard, but let your references know how valuable their input and assistance has been. And who knows? Maybe you can reciprocate sometime in the future.


  • The career development experts at PrideStaff Fresno are ready to help as you build your list of references, as well as your resume and all the other aspects of your successful job search. The right opportunity is closer than you think, and we’re here to find the right fit for you. Contact us today to learn more.

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