What Should a Reference Page Look Like?

There are multiple documents involved in the job-search process: your résumé, your cover letter and your follow-up or thank-you letter. If you haven’t done so already, consider adding one more item to your application package: a reference page. Since prospective employers almost always ask for references, it’s smart to have a list immediately available for them to look over.Employers use a number of strategies to get to know job candidates and make a determination about the candidate’s suitability for employment. Contacting references is a key part of the process. However, listing references on your résumé is a bad idea. It’s better to use every inch of your résumé to showcase your skills and education; putting references down could appear as filler. The best way to share your references is by showcasing them on their own page.A reference page is much simpler to write than a résumé or cover letter, but don’t overlook its importance. This step requires nearly as much thought and analysis. You must use care, thoughtfulness and communicate openly with the people you’ve chosen as your references. More than one person has lost out on a position for failing to properly vet references. While you don’t want to be portrayed as a saint without imperfections, you want to make sure your references share your goal of helping you find new employment, and keep that in mind when speaking to potential employers.The accepted standard is three professional references, such as supervisors and co-workers, and three personal references. Personal references, which allow prospective employers to see another side of you, can be people you know from volunteer activities, church, or school. Avoid choosing personal references that are too personal, like spouses and parents.Once you’ve contacted your references, obtained their approval, and collected their information, you need to create your reference page. Don’t simply type out the information; remember you’re creating a package of documents to represent you to your employer. The same level of care you put into your résumé and cover letter should go into your reference sheet. As a résumé writer, I give the reference page the same heading as the résumé, and use the same font. I use bold text and italicized text sparingly, to emphasize job titles or places of employment, and follow the same format for each reference:NameTitleOrganizationAddressE-mailPhone/FaxAs with your other job-search documents, you want to make sure you proofread, focusing on the contact information for each reference. A misused letter or number could result in missed communication, causing embarrassment for you along with a possibly missed opportunity.Try to view the reference page as one more item to represent you to employers, and give it the same care and attention you give the rest of your application package.

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