It used to be that you always ended your resume with the line “References Available Upon Request.” Now that statement is mostly left off of resumes because it is deemed a given that you have references and you will be able to produce them when asked. However, if you have been job searching over a long period of time, you need to recognize that your reference page or list is not a static list.
Who you use as a reference will depend on the type of job you are applying for. For example, it would be better to use a former boss who supervised you at the IT help desk when you apply for your next help desk position rather than someone who supervised you as a cashier. Professional references, people with whom you worked or who have supervised you, are usually preferable. However, some positions may allow you to use personal references too, friends or community members who know you well.
Keep in touch with your references. Make sure that everyone on your reference list is someone who will give you a positive reference. How do you know if they will give you a positive reference? You ask. Don’t hint around. Ask each person on your potential reference list, “Are you able to speak highly of my skills and qualifications to potential employers?” If you sense any hesitation in their response, do not use that person and move on to the next person on your list.
Provide each person on your reference list with a current copy of your resume or curriculum vitae. Also give each person the job description for which you are applying or at least a summary of the type of position you would like. This way, when your reference(s) is called by a hiring manager, he/she can speak with some knowledge of how your qualifications fit into the job requirements. Keeping in touch with your references helps them better able to speak to your strengths so that you get the job. It also provides good opportunities to network.