12.0   What is a Good Reference and What Should You Give Your References?

Your references are one of your most important assets in the job search. The comments of a good reference can spur an employer into selecting you over other candidates. The comments of a bad reference can nix the offer in an instant.

If you are planning to interview for professional career positions in the near future it is time to get your references lined up! You will need three to five professional references. They need to be good references who will sing your praises.


To begin with, you will want to create a document that uses the header from your resume. Just below your resume header (that includes your name, address, phone, and email), the reference page will be titled "References" and will have two columns. One column will have the name, title, organization, address, phone, and email address of each of your references and it will appear as you would address an envelope. The second column will have a description of how you know the person. For example: Supervisor on bridge project; Sr. Project Professor; Co-team member on Sr. Design project; Co-worker at Air Resources, Inc.

A good professional reference is a person you ask, and who agrees, to allow you to use their name as a person who can be called upon to speak about your good professional qualities. Contact anyone you plan to use and ask if they would be willing to let you use them as a reference. Don't use anyone who you don't ask first and make sure that they will say only good things about you.

People who qualify to give you a good reference:
1. A professor who you have gotten a good grade from
2. A former or current employer or supervisor who knows the quality of your work
3. A co-worker who likes working with you
4. A sr. project co-team member (who doesn't hate you yet...)

Do not use:
1. Family members
2. Friends
3. People who don't know you professionally

Give all of your references a file folder with your name on the tab containing:
1. A recent picture of yourself
2. A resume
3. A list of your strengths
4. A list of your interests
5. A list of the types of positions for which you are applying
6. A list of the companies that may be contacting them

References need to have all of these things in order to give you a good reference. Some calls for references come months or years later when you are all but forgotten.

Employers will ask you for references and they will call! Keep in touch with your references and keep them posted on your progress. You will be glad you did!

Good Luck!

Cici Mattiuzzi