Whether you're applying for work at a medical clinic in Toronto or as a receptionist at a trucking company in Kentucky, whether or not you end up getting the position will likely depend on the strength of your references. You can crow all day about your work experience and your education and your skills, but if there's no one willing to stand up and attest that you're a good worker, your future employer won't be impressed. This article will help you learn how to collect stellar references for your resume.
Who you choose as your references is important. Employers usually want two or three and the more these references know about your work habits the better. The best person to ask for a reference is the last employer you worked for, provided you parted on good terms. Otherwise your new employer will wonder why your most recent work experience didn't yield a reference. References from the same field you are applying for work in are also good news for an employer because they know your skills. If you have no previous jobs, ask a teacher or instructor.
After they know you're capable of doing the type of work they have in mind for you, your new employer will also want to know about you as a person. This is where your character reference comes in. Choose someone who knows you well and can speak about your dedication and reliability. Good choices for character references include supervisory volunteers from a program you work with and friends or neighbors who have good jobs or important positions (such as an elected office). Make sure they know you well and are willing to promote you to an employer.
While you always want to choose references who know you, you should never choose a reference who is a relation. Relatives are widely viewed as having skewed perspectives of you and a willingness to do you a favor by saying you're better at building decks than you really are. Using family as references will hurt, not help your job hunt, as an employer will assume that no one outside your own family is willing to vouch for your ability to do the job.
Once you know who you want to ask, check with them to make sure they're willing to provide a reference and get up to date contact information for them. Work numbers and emails are better than home ones, because a bedroom art consultant can phone the switchboard at the company to prove your reference works where they say they do. You do not need to list your references on the resume unless the employer specifically asks. You can simply put that they are "available on request."