Build the Career You Want | Acing the reference check

So, you’ve made it through a successful job interview and the employer has asked you to provide references.  You’re feeling really good about your chances, so now is the time to push this job opportunity to an official offer by properly preparing your list of references.

How to create a reference list

A list of references can be typed up in a simple Word document.  Put your name at the top of the page. Then list your references, including their:

  • First and last name
  • Job title and company
  • Contact information including phone number and email.

You may also want to put a line about their relationship to you, in case it’s not obvious.

Then, put a space in between each reference you list.

Employers generally expect a list of three references but the number may vary from employer to employer. Ensure to list the number they ask for and follow their instructions on how the list should be delivered, for example via email or bringing a printout to a second in-person interview.

Prepare your references well

One of the most important parts of providing references is to warn and prepare your references before the employer contacts them. Here are four tips to follow:

  1. Don’t assume. Always ask before putting a person’s name down on your reference list. Even if you asked them previously, ask again in relation to this job application.
  2. Inform them. Provide your reference with background information on the job you’re applying for and why you’re asking them to be a reference.
  3. Help them help you. Even if your reference knows you well, be sure to provide them with your updated resumé and any other related materials to update them about your most recent skills and experience.
  4. Say thank you. By writing a reference letter or speaking on your behalf, that person is taking extra time from their busy schedule to help you with your job search. Expressing your gratitude tells your professor, manager, coworker or mentor that you appreciate their time and efforts. You can send a thank you email, or even a thank you card by mail or delivered in person. This gesture is not just good manners, it can also help build strong connections.

Have more questions about the job search process? DIVERSEcity Employment Program are here to help you build the career you want. To learn more about the programs we offer, visit

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