Have you been through a series of interviews and failed to get the job even though everything was perfect? There are many steps that contribute towards getting selected for the right job, from polishing your resume to dressing perfectly for the interview. One of the most important things that the job seekers forget to work upon is gathering references for future job applications. All employers ask for references at some point during the hiring process, so you should be prepared to provide references that will work in your benefit. Most people think that references don’t matter much and the employers do not indulge in a background check. This concept is not at all accurate and while it is true that some of the employers do not take the references seriously, most of them do. When a big organization is about to hire you and make a significant amount of investment on you, they will definitely call some of your references to make sure that they are making the right choice.

Why Are References Important?

References are very important in strengthening your resume as they show that the people you worked with previously appreciate you and were satisfied with your work. Getting people as your references is not as easy as it sounds because while your previous colleagues might have been cordial to you, there is no guarantee that they will vouch for your performance when contacted by your prospective employer. This is the precise reason why references carry so much weight in your selection process. Since employers do not tend to vouch for each and every employer, the fact that they are doing so for you adds to your credibility as a valuable employee.

Important Things To Keep In Mind When Providing References

Providing reference is an important part of job hunting and can affect the outcome of an interview tremendously. However, giving references is not as simple as just making a list and providing it to the prospective employers. There are a lot of things that you should keep in mind when creating a list of references so that you do not have to face rejections from job interviews. Here are some of the steps that are essential to creating a solid and beneficial reference list:

Filter the references:

When listing a person as a reference, make sure that the person is actually willing to be your reference and has something good to say about you. For instance, if you did not part with your last employer on good terms, quoting him as a reference might be a big mistake doing more harm than good. Moreover make sure that the person you are listing as your reference is someone who worked closely with you and is personally aware of your achievements and contributions to the company during the time you were there. Someone who is only aware of your work superficially cannot give you the recommendation that you deserve.

Create a separate sheet:

Whether you wish to provide references when submitting your resume or you want to hand them over when you appear for the interview, make sure that you do not include them in the resume but write them on a separate sheet. The font and the formatting of the references sheet should be similar to that of the resume. You can either attach this sheet to the resume or hand it over when the employers specifically ask you for reference, whatever appears better to you.

Give diverse references:

Instead of listing people as references who belong to the same company, try to give references from many different organizations so that you can get a recommendation based on your achievements in different fields and at various positions. For instance, apart from naming your previous employer as the reference, you can also give references from your co-workers and teachers, who will evaluate you as a colleague and a student, respectively.

Get permission:

If you are listing someone as your reference, make sure that you ask for his or her permission before doing so. Ask your boss if you can name his as a reference for your job applications in future. If he gives an enthusiastic reply then go for it, however if you sense some reluctance on his part then it is better for you not to name him as a reference. If your boss is unwilling to be named as a reference, there is a good chance that he might not give you a good recommendation if contacted.

Recheck the reference list

Make sure that you have spelled all the names of the people and the organization correctly and that the contact numbers you have provided are up-to-date. Keep tabs on your references so that you know when they change jobs and have their latest contact information. Moreover, there are some jobs where the employers ask for references at the beginning when you are submitting your resume. For such scenarios, it is best that you have your reference sheet well prepared, updated and ready to be submitted at any time.

Letters of recommendation

In the past, letter of recommendation written by some of your previous employers might help you in landing the job successfully, but now the trend has changed. Nowadays, the employers want to get directly in touch with the references provided either by telephone or via email. This provides them with the opportunity to ask detailed questions regarding your professionalism and helps them evaluate you better.  While there is nothing wrong with providing letters of recommendation, it is better that you provide contact numbers with them so that the employers can get in touch with them if they want to.

Avoid personal references

While friends and family will always have something nice to say about you, it is best to avoid putting them as references since they do not carry much weight with the employers. However if you still want to add some personal reference, make sure that you provide at least 3 professional references as well. There is a high probability that the prospective employer will get in touch with the professional references only, since it is pretty obvious that the personal reference will praise you whether you deserve it or not.


Strong and solid references can boost your chances of getting the desired job immensely. In order to get maximum benefit from the references, you have to keep you reference up to date and make sure that you are following all of the suggestions given in this article. While having strong references does not necessarily mean that you will be able to get the job, it surely gives you an edge during the hiring process.