Do you have a list of Personal References? Do you have a list of Professional References? Let's see. You could flip through your address book or list some of your social networking Friends. You could break out your old yearbook and jot down a few names of some old classmates and favorite teachers or coaches. You could check some directories from clubs and organizations you participate in. You could even find an Employee Phone Listing and find just the right person (or people) to include as a Reference. Maybe a close Friend or a Neighbor would do. Maybe. Maybe not.

Prospective Employers will call your References! You can count on it! It's all part of the process of learning more about you and making sure you're the right person for the job.

So, what makes the ideal Reference? Let's start a list! This should help you get started.

Your preference for a reference should include:

  • Someone who not only knows you, but fully understands your job or career search goals.
  • Someone you've spoken to recently who is aware of your most positive attributes.
  • Someone who knows exactly who will call to ask about you.
  • Someone who knows specifics about the job you're applying for and can explain relevant things about you that the prospective employer will remember.
  • Someone who can speak to your potential.
  • Someone who can speak on your behalf in such a way that it builds you up.
  • Someone who can emphasize things about you that matter to the company and position.
  • Someone who has a current copy of your resume and understands it with enough detail to keep your positive first impression intact.
  • Someone who presents you in a positive light.
  • Someone who you worked with in the past and you hold in high regard.
  • Someone who mentored you in the past.
  • Someone who you worked on an important project with.
  • Someone who managed you in the past.

By now, you've probably started thinking about who you might include in your Personal and Professional Reference list. It may take some time, but make sure you put some careful consideration into this task. After all, whomever you choose to represent you to a prospective employer needs to do so in a way that gains momentum for you toward securing the job.

When it comes to References, you don't want any surprises! Nothing worse than having an outstanding initial interview only to have things cut short due to a Personal or Professional Reference that said something that derailed your chances of getting hired. Make sure to eliminate the chances of a Reference who gets called by the employer and sounded like they had no clue about your career search goals. You'll want to prepare your References, but not in such a way that they come across as someone with a "canned speech" about you. You want to select people who can say the right things right.

And, make sure you have current and correct contact information for each of your Personal and Professional References!

What did you include in your list? Please share your thoughts and ideas!