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The Role Of Character References In Your Resume

Character references lists are always being collected by employers whenever they are included in resumes and cover letters. The reason behind this is that they are always on the lookout for new and potential candidates whenever there are any job openings. When this occurs, documents that contain these information are always being examined and then the people listed within the document are being contacted prior to you being called in for an interview.

Enlisting these people in your own personal resume is either a good thing or a bad thing. The reason behind this is because the contacts in your resume are sometimes no longer in the same position or had changed companies or to put it in a more simpler way, your list is outdated.

Employers are always assuming that your resume is current so when the company staffer begins to check the data that you had supplied them with, you’re going the be hit bad once they find out that your contacts are not legit due to the various reasons there may be. So, your job here is to keep an eye on your contacts and have an updated reference contact list so that you can give their information to potential employers personally, electronically or via old fashioned snail mail.

Have a list of everyone that you know either professionally or casually. Write down the names of your current colleagues, clients, bosses, supervisors or any other professional or business contacts that you could recall. Its best to have almost everyone in your database for you can be surprised once get to find out who gets declined and gets the “Go” signal. A basic contact information template can also be used to keep track of your contacts. Here is an example of the template:

Full Name
Title/Position
Company
Company Address
Phone Number (company or home number)
Mobile Number
E-Mail Address (business or personal email address)
Personal Address/Location
Relationship: (can be casual, professional or both.)

Next, try to get in touch with these people and ask them on how they wanted to be contacted. Its best to get their confirmation first for multiple reasons. For instance, a good number of people wouldn’t want to be contacted through their email with regards personal or business requests. Also, company emails are being monitored so its a bad idea if there would be personal requests being found in somebody’s email account. Another thing is that there are also people who wouldn’t want to be contacted while working at the office for a good reason. So, it’s best that you ask and confirm if they prefer to be called via their mobile phone or house number.

Now, do the same for your personal contacts. The reason why they are there in your resume is mainly to provide you with some basic character references. Friends that you have included in your list may sometimes forget on how long they had known you, so you have to remind them. As you jot down their information, always include their profession and title if they do have one. This piece of information even from a personal contact will always add credibility.

As you wait for the call, briefly talk to them about the situation. Tell them what position you are aiming for and what they should expect when they get contacted. Be sure that you emphasize confidentiality if ever it is needed especially when you had sent your resumes to a number of employers. The information that they would be supplying should be in tune with that you have so that they won’t choke during the call.

Probably the best way to present your references list is by using a columned list. This type of format is easy for both you and the employer’s staff to maintain and navigate. Here is an example:

Character References of John Smith
123 Street name, City, State, Zip Code
Phone Number, Mobile Number, E-Mail Address

Professional Contacts

Full Name
Title/Position
Company
Company Address
Phone Number
Mobile Number
E-Mail Address
Personal Address/Location
Relationship: (casual or professional)

Personal Contacts

Full Name
Title/Position
Phone Number
Mobile Number
E-Mail Address
Relationship: (casual or good friend)

Ideally, the list should be from 2 to 3 pages at max. Keep the font size at 12 and use fronts such as Courier, Tahoma or Times New Roman so that it can be easily read or skimmable.

Don’t forget to update to update your list at least once every two to three months. This will serve you multiple purposes such as keeping in touch or re-establishing your contact with professional or personal contacts. It is also possible for the list to lead you to new job openings from different companies that you didn’t even consider.

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  • Emelia J

    Excellent post, I’m an avid reader of this blog, keep on posting that great content, and I’ll be a regular for a long time.

  • Melanie

    Dear Emelia,

    We appreciate your time to leave a response, your comments are of great value and inspiration for us!

    Sincerely, Site Admin