Ideally, your reference list should include three to five employers or other professionals who have extensive, first-hand knowledge of your background and expertise. Personal references are also acceptable, but certainly less preferable than professional ones. In either case, your references should be able to familiarize employers with your work habits.
It's a good idea to supply references to potential employers...but not on your Resume. Employers will ask for references if and when they want to see that list - and are deciding whether to hire you. It is perfectly acceptable (and clearly desirable) to conclude your Resume with this line: "References available upon request."
NOTE: Be sure to notify your references that you're including their names on your reference list. This will ensure that they are prepared to answer questions about you and to reiterate all the reasons you are a valuable employee.
Each of your references should follow the same format:
- The person's name
- His or her position or job title
- The company at which he or she is currently employed
- The company's full address
- A phone number where he or she can be reached during working hours (usually this is his or her office phone number)
These days, most employers actually call references...unlike a few years ago. The assumption used to be that contacting references was pointless because they would always report favorably on the candidate in question.
However, experience has shown that many job hunters give the wrong kind of references - ones that don't exist at all, who know nothing about the candidate or, worst of all, who have negative feelings about him or her.
Pick people whom you know, trust, respect and who truly want to help you land a job. Stellar references can put you on the fast track, and bad references can knock you out of the running altogether.
Be honest in your Resume. This is a new millennium. Technology now allows employers to check every detail themselves, or even hire someone else to do it for them. If you choose to fib in your Resume, chances are you'll get caught somewhere down the line. Don't make any claims you wouldn't otherwise enjoy backing up.