Career Services

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Professional References

Virtually all employers will want a list of professional references from job candidates at sometime in the hiring process; some employers will request that candidates submit letters of recommendation with application materials.  

Some candidates submit a list of three-five references with their application materials.  All candidates should take reference lists with them to employment interviews.  

Professional references are references that can provide information about the candidate's knowledge base, skill level, work habits, and workplace behaviors.  Typically, these references will come from professors, internship supervisors, and employers.  Occasionally, employers will request personal references; these are references attesting to the candidate's character from people who have known the candidate for quite some time.  Unless the employer specifies that he or she wants personal references, prepare and submit professional references. 

  • Be sure to ask the people you choose for references for permission to use them as references during your job search; you may also want to ask them what contact information they wish you to share with potential employers.   If you want or need letters of recommendation from your references, be sure to give them significant advance notice.
  • Once you have determined who your references are, prepare a reference list to share with employers.  This list should look as though it is part of your application materials.  Many candidates cut-and-paste the top contact information from their resumes on a separate document and designate references, just as they did the education and employment categories on their resumes.  They then type the name and contact information of each of their resumes, similar to what appears below:
        
         Jane Doe, Internship Supervisor
         ABC Company
         555 Main Street
         La Crosse, WI 54603
         jdoe@abc.com
         608-555-5555
  • Help your references be good references.  Give each reference person a copy of your resume.  Keep them posted on the status of your job search.  Let them know the skills and knowledge you would like them to address in their references for specific opportunities.  
  • Send thank you notes to your references when you have accepted a position.  

PDF iconSample Reference List