Not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s plenty of current-day debate about whether to include former employer and other character referees on your resume. Most of the resume fundamentals should still be there, including relevant employment history and skills, but the contact details of referees are not as prevalent.
Many resume writers and career specialists will advise that the phone number and email address of your professional references don’t need to be included in your physical job application – unless it’s specified in the job ad. These contact details are often viewed as taking up precious document space, and you could also be going against company policy. There’s also the risk that your chosen referees will be bombarded with calls if you’re applying for multiple jobs – this may affect the quality of their feedback.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should neglect the necessity of high-quality references as part of your career development. It’s just that they’re often called upon as part of the final job application process, post-interview – unless it’s specified in the job ad.
So with all of this in mind, here are several ‘house rules’ on maintaining the right references for future career development:
Consider which referees will best ‘sell’ you: Try to keep at least five references handy when job seeking, and double this amount if your job history’s a bit ‘chequered’. If you’re applying for different types of role, keep separate referee lists for each one. Also ensure that every one of your referees is going to positively promote your ‘brand’, based on a former positive working relationship.
There’s no excuse not to stay in touch: LinkedIn and the like have escalated professional networking opportunities. It’s not only easier to stay in touch with former co-workers (i.e. referees), but these forums enable you to remind others about your skills and experience – important for reference checks. Always contact referees when you’re job hunting, partly to give them the heads-up and also to confirm up-to-date contact details. Perhaps also highlight what you’d like them to focus on if a recruiter calls (e.g. a joint project).
Polish your physical referees document: Always try to maintain a fully up-to-date referees list that’s structurally aligned with the rest of your job application including your resume and cover letter. You may not be submitting this document at the same time, but streamlining it will project commitment and professionalism. Below are the main details you should consider including:
- Referee’s Name
- Referee’s Job Title
- Company Name (note if they’re no longer there)
- Company Address (city, state, etc.)
- Referee Phone Numbers
- Referee Email Address
- Your Relationship to Referee