Career Tip 16: Line Up References – Get Started Now

Get Started Now.

When a potential employer asks for references, you want to be organized and prepared. Here’s how.

  1. Brainstorm a list of five or more references. A longer list gives you the ability to have options that you may select based on the job opportunity.
  2. Work through the list and use the following Reference Worksheet to guide your preparation.
  3. Prepare a professionally-developed Reference Submission Page, as we illustrate at the end of this Tip.

Reference Worksheet

  1. Reference’s Name & Job Title today
  2. Phone
  3. Email
  4. His/her job title at the time you knew each other
  5. The company/organization where you knew each other
  6. How does this reference know you and your work?
    Recruiters will specifically ask for this information.
  7. The period you worked together – ensure this time is consistent with resume dates
  8. Are you connected on LinkedIn?
    Connecting with each reference on LinkedIn allows you to search their connections. Doing so allows you to identify former co-workers or others to whom you would like an introduction.
  9. Key responsibilities you want this individual to recall
    Have a conversation with each of your references to ensure they know the important information you want them to recall if they are contacted.
  10. Key accomplishments you want this individual to recall
    Having this conversation is how you ensure each reference recalls the important information you want them to recall when they are later contacted.
  11. Your statement as to why you left the organization
    Ensure you and each reference knows exactly what you will be telling recruiters. You need absolute consistency on this important topic.
  12. Date(s) you contacted this reference to ask his/her permission and to remain in contact throughout your search.
    Make notes of each conversation.


Using the above Reference Worksheet, complete a typed Reference Submission Page to submit to employers. Include the information suitable for submission to employers: items 1–7 above. Items 8–12 are for your personal preparation.

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