You are head first into your job search. You have the clothes, the social networking, the interviews, the thank you letters, needless to say, you have a lot going on and many times, all while holding down your current job. During the interview process, there will come a time when the potential employer asks for references. It’s a good sign, they are interested and want to see how well you have worked with others. Just choosing some past employers and co-workers isn’t enough, this last step can make or break your chances of getting this new job.

1.) Your references should be typed out on a separate sheet, it can be emailed or you could print it and have it available if asked at the time of your interview.
Contact the references you’d like to use and make sure it’s ok with them and that they can speak to different skills or traits that are appropriate for their position. For example, your former boss, they can speak to your hard work, dedication to a job well done, can do attitude etc. I also suggest using a client, a close friend/client. They can speak to working hard for their business, getting the best possible results etc. Lastly I would use someone that you volunteer with or the head of an organization that you volunteer for. It could be philanthropic, it could be within your community, it could be a professional organization…just make sure it’s someone that knows you well and can easily be contacted and can speak highly of you. I like seeing a mix of references, it shows you are multifaceted and there are people from many walks of life that can speak well of you. I would list at least three references, sometimes four. Be sure to include updated contact info to ensure prompt contact by your future employer. Your references should be prepared to answer many questions, mostly general questions about you.

2.) After you get approval from your references, I suggest listing them like this or similar to this:

Mr. Joe Smith
Director of IT, ABC Tech Company
123 Westwood Circle
San Francisco, CA 55565
(321) 665-8992
Preferred contact method: Phone

Use this short paragraph to describe how you know Joe, how you have worked with Joe and how Joe can attest to your skill set, dedication to your job, etc.

Preparing your references and presenting a well-rounded selection is very important in this final step of the job search process. Good luck, it is quite possible you are in the home stretch!