The most commonly asked question when submitting a resume or applying for a job is, inevitably – “who do I put as a reference?” This is most true for people entering the workforce. So what is a reference anyway?
A resume reference is someone who can verify the information you have provided in your resume and can provide information about your character. If you are new to the work force, they can be personal references: former teacher / professor, acquaintance, coach, etc.; or if you are using past work references, they can be former bosses, clients, managers, supervisors, etc. References are people who you know and trust, and know you well enough to give positive feedback about you. In most cases, references will be contacted once you have passed the initial interview process conducted during the last stages of the job selection process.
It is best to contact potential references prior to using them to ask if they may be used as a reference, or to notify them that you are considering using them as a reference; they must be willing to accept. In many cases, former employers, managers, or clients are delighted to serve as a reference. However you never know if this person will give a good reference or a bad one about you; you may think of asking them how they feel about you in advance. If you have your doubts, do not use them.
Common Questions Asked During the Reference Check
The most common questions asked during a “reference check” are about:
Professional Conduct / Personal Character
Communication Skills: Oral and Written
Strengths & Weaknesses
Management / Leadership Skills
Attitude with clients, co-workers
Attendance / Punctuality
Wage / Salary verification
References should not be provided unless specifically requested in the job advertisement or by the employer. Most people simply put “References Available Upon Request” at the end of their resume. Should you make it to the interview, make sure that you have a list of references available, in the event it is requested of you. Good luck in your job search!