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Making Resume References Work for You The Right Way

Here’s how to use resume references properly and land the job you want in no time by standing out from the competition

What exactly are resume references?

You love the convenience of applying for everything online nowadays. From the comfort of your home (and your pajamas), you can peruse jobs and upload your resume for openings just about anywhere. By making it easier to apply for jobs, that also means that hiring managers have more resumes to sift through. And for the ease of digitalizing the company’s every litmus test, applications online have become more complex. Maybe you dread it when an online form takes you to the “Professional References” page, but the fact that competitive positions require these tells you something: even in those one-stop job posts where you can upload your resume and move on, including resume references is to your advantage. Offering contact information of coworkers and personal contacts as a testament to your character, and in many cases these contacts are never even called. The fact that you offer references makes an impression in itself, and your resume references format on your resume can high-light that fact.

Resume references page: built for adaptability

In standard resume format, references are typically built onto an independent page. Over the course of an in-person interview, candidates provided the resume and reference pages separately. You can start by searching for a resume references example on the internet, however this doesn’t have to be as heavily researched if your resume already has a defined style. Your reference page should be considered an appendix to the resume itself, and can duplicate the resume fonts and layout. If you don’t have many references due to a short job history, or little work in the industry you’re applying to, you can still use a separate reference page if you get a little creative. A reference page with too-few entries breaks the confidence that providing a reference page should bring. To get more creative, any resume references sample can be tested by plugging in the contacts you have. Be sure to print a copy to see how it looks. The added benefit of independent reference pages is that you can save several versions (with different references) independently of your resumes, and mix and match as appropriate for each job.

When you know references are a big deal, but need a different solution:

Maybe you’re a little self-conscious of your scanty reference list, or maybe you’re determined to keep all your presentation materials to a tight one or two pages. References can also be built as lists in your resume itself to save room, save paper, or distract from the small number on the list. Once you decide whether you like the idea of a page or a sub-section more, use these tips to build it right:

• For your resume references list, separate all contacts into categories

• Keep a master list of contacts to pick and choose from, by category, for specific jobs

• Shoot for a consistent number of references per job

• Talk to everyone you want to use in your references

• Save industry-specific versions of your reference page (or resume, with reference sub-sections)

Don’t hold back (or be lazy) if possible new references pop up over time. Continue refining your resume references pool, and never be afraid to ask the people who might be able to speak to your skills or character. Supposedly, these people are supposed to like you.

Cultivating reference and presentation materials

Building a list of references is something many job seekers choose not to do. When faced with that “required field” on an online application, coming up short can be a humbling experience. Get creative with your references sources; references are traditionally professional, but personal character references can be valuable as well. Most of all, having the forethought to collect references is a practice that is all the more beneficial for how uncommon it is. The crafting of references into your presentation materials will be straight-forward if you have a style already defined in your resume. Once you finish listing, vetting and talking to each of your potential references, building them into your resume is a breeze. Keep your lists fresh and industry-specific, and you will break through those application litmus tests way ahead of the rest. Keep your eyes out for more references tips on Resumes Land!

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