Are your references ruining your chance for the job you want?

Your resume and cover letter may be great, but what about your references? Your references can make or break you when it comes to landing a job. References can either confirm or deny your value as an employee to a recruiter or potential employer.

It is very important that a recruiter or potential employer have the complete contact information for each of your references, including their job title, employer, and email address or phone number. It is key that their relationship to you is identified; were they a co-worker, supervisor, direct report? Did you work on specific projects together? Which of your unique skills and experiences can the reference attest to?

Having a pool of references to choose from allows you to choose the best people to highlight your skills for the opportunity you are applying for. You should have between three to seven references who can describe a project you worked on together, or a valuable skill that you have. Individuals with whom you have worked closely, including teammates, co-workers, and former clients can make excellent references.

Don’t go into an interview assuming someone you worked with will be a great reference, and describe your skills in glowing terms. You need to know before you go.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Stay in contact with former teammates, co-workers, supervisors and clients.
  • Before you forget about that project you worked on, write down who you worked with on the project, and what each party was responsible for. What was the outcome of the project?   Was a new process created? Was a cost savings achieved?
  • Take detailed notes during your performance reviews.
  • Develop 10-20 specific questions tailored to your unique experience with each of your references. You may want to ask a supervisor about projects you volunteered with or took the lead on. You may want to ask a team member about your contributions to team projects.
  • Go to and sign up for an Electronic Reference Check.
  • Using your references contact information and the questions you have created, the Electronic Reference Check will create a report detailing your work experience, with an emphasis on the skills and abilities you chose to focus on in your questions for your references.
  • Attach your Electronic Reference Check to your online job application, get the recruiter’s attention, and get the job!

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