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Identify and Prepare Your Professional References

Before making a final hiring decision, employers usually ask for the names of several references - people you have worked with who will vouch for your work ethic and character. It's a good idea to identify people with whom you have had a successful working relationship, and who are willing to share what they know about you.

Most employers will want to talk to three references. If possible, have four to six professional references ready to choose from, so you can rotate your references and avoid overusing any one person.

Talk to your potential references ahead of time and ask them for permission to give an employer their names and contact information. You can also remind them about your key strengths, successes, and experiences. Send them a copy of your resume so they'll be aware of the information you've sent the potential employer.

If you are targeting a specific position, give your references a copy of the job description.

When meeting with an interviewer, wait until they ask for your references before giving them your list.

For each reference, provide:

  • their name;
  • their job title;
  • the name of the organization they work for;
  • work phone number;
  • email address;
  • relationship to you (supervisor, peer, subordinate, customer, etc.); and
  • the length of time you worked with them.