Reference List

A reference list should be comprised of at least six individuals who a search firm or your next potential employer can reach out to, to give insight to your work characteristics.  On that list you should include the name of the individual, their current position and company, their phone number, their email address if you have it and what their relationship was or is to you i.e. Supervisor, Peer, Subordinate. 

Please ensure the contact information is correct. 

Ideally you will have reached out to those individuals to let them know that you are using them as a reference and that you would appreciate their prompt response to any calls made to inquire about you.  Do not give out references lightly.  Their time is very valuable so you would not want them contacted unless an employer is serious about considering you for employment.  Never put your reference list on your resume or include it with your resume.  This should be a separate document that is provided to those employers and search firms that you are in the process with pertaining to a particular career opportunity. 

When considering who to use as a reference think about the level of position you are applying for and how that reference will represent you in discussion.  You will want to list references that are able to represent you in a very professional manner.  They should be individuals that you have worked with in the last five to ten years.  Anything further back than that, depending on the level of individual you list, will most likely not be of great insight as it has been too long and most likely your work and leadership characteristics have grown since then. 

You would want to ensure that anyone on your reference list is articulate in how they converse with the individuals contacting them.  They must be knowledgeable of your accountabilities, successes, strengths and areas of development.  A diverse list of individuals to call is preferred i.e. Supervisors, Peers, Subordinates, other discipline leaders i.e. Human Resources, Training, Procurement.  Again, please ensure the individuals listed are well versed in your work practices. 

The level of leadership you are providing as references is very important.  Do not under play your level of responsibility and authority by listing references that are significantly junior comparable to the level of position you are pursuing.    

Remember your references are a professional representation of yourself.  They will help influence the hiring decision and must add value and additional insight as it relates to your work and leadership characteristics.    

What you don't want from your reference.

  • Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  • Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thing that holds it all together.

  • A photographic memory but without the lens cover glued on.

  • Bright as Alaska in December.

  • The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.

  • Some drink from the fountain of knowledge, he only gargled.

  • The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.

  • Doesn't play well with others in a corporate environment.