Reconnect with references in the new year


If you can not easily think of three people to use as professional references now is a great time to strengthen those connections. If you have not offered a “Happy New Year” to past supervisors and colleagues do it today.

Take the opportunity to discuss your career aspirations for this year and how they may be of assistance.

Do not forget to offer assistance with their goals and actually follow through if you are asked to do something.


”References Available Upon Request”


Remember colored toilet tissue? It was odd, unnecessary, and probably a health risk. While including “references available upon request” may not cause a tumor, the other two adjectives fit. Much like that colored toilet paper, we have another customary resume declaration to leave in the past.

2. Adding “References Available Upon Request”

This habit is probably the most maddening. I want to shake clients who use it and automatically toss resumes that include it. It is a space waster and a simply ridiculous statement.

As a hiring manager, I realize that if I ask you for references you will give them to me. I would love to once, run into a candidate who says “no, I will not give you references”. It would make for a great story and make me wrong about this useless statement.

Instead of taking the time to append this awkward statement to the bottom of your resume, put your energy toward:

  • Reaching out to your references and letting them know that you are searching for a new role.
  • Asking new contacts if you can use them as a reference
  • Making sure you have correct and up to date contact information for them
  • Sharing job descriptions with them in order to make their reference targeted and informed
  • Asking them to write LinkedIn recommendations for you (those carry more weight than the canned endorsements that LinkedIn prompts from members of your networks)

Please, avoid the ire of hiring managers by removing this anti-climactic statement from the bottom of your resume. It serves no purpose and sticks out the same way a roll of blue toilet tissue sticks out in a modern twenty-first-century bathroom.

Respecting Your References: Don’t Make Them AfterThoughts

Happy New Year! For everyone resolved to find a new position in 2015, here is the single greatest tip I can give you with regard to references for success in the New Year: Reach out to them BEFORE using their name.

The initial application process for many companies now includes a request for a minimum of three references.  While I find this odd, the great news is, you are ahead of the game.  You don’t have to be caught off guard by this step because you already know you are looking for a new position and will at some point need to provide references. Do yourself a favor and start building/updating your reference list now.  Here are a few proactive steps to take prior to receiving a formal request for references.

 1. Make sure they still know who you are and are able to speak to your skills as it relates to your current career path

If you no longer work with or for this person, this is a must. Reach out to them via phone, email, or even social media and let them know that you are in job search and plan to use them as a reference.

Reminding a potential reference who you are means stroking their memory of who you are as a professional. Even if a professional relationship has turned into a friendship (I am currently friends with a number of my past supervisors) and you just hung out with this person for the holidays, take a moment to ensure that they know where you are trying to go in your career.

Help them give you a great professional reference by reminding them of projects that you worked on and skills that you possess that directly relate to your current career path. Sample job descriptions can also help when explaining the types of positions you are interested in.

2. Make sure that you have updated contact information

During your outreach, make sure you have their preferred contact information. What are the best phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses to reach them? To ease their burden, provide them with the information you currently have and let them update where necessary.

3. Make sure that they actually want to be a reference for you

Give them a chance to opt out. Touch base with your reference before you submit their name to a company. It may not happen very often, but there are cases in which a person will decline a request to be used as a reference.

4. Make sure you actually want to use them as a reference

Knowing or working directly with someone does not automatically make them a great reference.  Use the initial contact to gauge their responsiveness (if they never respond to your inquiry, don’t use them) and how articulate they are.  Remember, this person is speaking on your behalf.

Someone agreeing to provide a reference for you does not mean you have to use them. You make the final call!

The New Year gives you a perfect reason to reach out to former co-workers, supervisors, and acquaintances and reintroduce yourself in a non-awkward way. Take advantage of this opportunity and avoid the scramble to put together a reference list on the fly.