How Many References Should You Have (With Tips to Get Them)

How Many References Should You Have (With Tips to Get Them)

As you apply for jobs, you may be asked to submit your references. Employers have good reasons for asking for these references, but you still probably don't look forward to the work of compiling a list. In fact, coming up with references is one of the scariest parts of the job search. Learn more about references, including how many you need to include for the best results.

What is a Reference?

First, you should understand what a reference is. A professional reference is someone who can vouch for your abilities or identify your shortcomings. When an employer asks you for a reference, they're usually hoping to get insight into what you're like as an employee.

Employers usually specify what type of references they want. If they ask for a personal reference, it can be from a close friend. But a professional reference must come from someone you've worked with. While a personal reference can only speak about your values and character, a professional reference can speak more about how you are in the workplace.

How Many References Do You Need?

On a traditional job application, you need a minimum of three references. If you only provide one reference, an employer doesn't get a complete picture of your abilities. You may have had an unusually bad or an unusually good experience with the employer. It'sIt's the same problem with looking for a restaurant with only one review. If you don't know the person reviewing the restaurant, you can't possibly know if their opinion is accurate or trustworthy.

With three references on your resume, you make it possible for a potential employer to understand what you bring to the table. You could have one reference, but even a ringing endorsement won't be enough to get you a job offer. Three good references are better than one great reference.

The exact amount of references you need depends on your industry and job title. If you want a job as an executive or with the government, you might need six or seven total references. Before you start applying for work, research the common requirements for the jobs you want to apply to. Then, make sure you have the right amount of references in order.

How to Pick Your References

Once you know how many references you need, you can start to prepare your list of references. Take some time to think about who you can use as a reference. You could use a previous employer, former coworker, or even a former teacher. If you had a mentor in school or in your career, you could also use them as your reference.

Think about what value your references can add to your resume. Will they have good things to say about you? Did you have any bad experiences that could come up during a phone call? Although the way you handle yourself in interviews makes a difference, your references will have a major influence on the decision of the hiring manager.

Before you start listing off your references, reach out to them. Even if the hiring manager doesn't call them, you can use this as an opportunity to strengthen your network. Call the reference and let them know that you plan on using them as a reference. Then, be sure to connect with them and ask them about their current projects.

Tips for Listing References

If you want your resume to look professional, you need to add your references in the right way. You should always start off your reference list with the strongest contact in your network. Typically, employers will make the phone call to the first person on the list. You should use a very close contact, and one who has great things to say about you.

When you list your references, include their first and last name. You should include any necessary prefix and suffix, as well as the job title. It'sIt's also essential to include the job title of your reference. If you're not sure about their current title, make sure you find it out. The title can help the hiring manager know more about your reference.

Another useful detail is the name of the company. Once again, ask your reference for updated information regarding their employment status. You don't want to include outdated information, or you risk coming across as unprofessional.

Which Contact Information to Include

You should also include all of the necessary contact information for your reference. This means writing down the business email address along with the phone number. In some cases, the hiring manager won't even call the reference. They may just ask for a written endorsement.

With that said, other hiring managers want a lengthy conversation with your reference. You can never be sure what to expect, so prepare yourself. If you don't want an employer to call a reference, reconsider putting the reference on your list.

How to Make Sure You Have Good References

You may not plan on needing a new job anytime soon. However, this doesn't mean you don't need to have professional references. At any time, you could need a new job. You improve your chances of finding work by making an effort to have good references.

Here are a few tips to having great references:

Keep Positive Relationships

After you move on to a new job, don't forget about the people in your past. Your connections could be what one day gets you a new job. If you want to have references, you need to work at keeping your old contacts in your new circle. Every so often, reach out to someone from your past.

Don'tDon't Burn Bridges

When you leave one employer for another, it's easy to burn bridges. But you should do whatever it takes to leave on good terms. This could mean offering to find a replacement or helping to train a new employee. In the future, your employer could be a good reference.

Thank Your References

After you use someone as a reference, thank them. Going forward, they'll continue to be a positive reference for you.

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