Especially for students who lack the professional experience to definitively prove their capabilities, references vouch for the experience that might not yet be on your resume, but which employers need to assess your abilities.
Need to know which resume references to include? Use this list to strengthen any application:
The best resume references give recruiters a solid idea of what kind of employee you are, so who better to ask than your own bosses?
For each of your past jobs or internships, contact your immediate supervisor as a resume reference. Your supervisor interacts with you the most in a professional environment, and probably can tell a potential employer how you work and what you can do more than the head of the company could.
References add the most value to your resume when they hold a similar title to the job you’re applying for – they can tell a recruiter specific skills you can bring to a job. If one of your resume references is in a comparable field or holds similar responsibilities to your desired job, list him or her at the top of your resume. He or she might offer a lot of insight into your readiness for the new job.
If you’re applying for a fellowship, to a graduate school or to an academic program, provide 3 or 4 academic references on your resume. Academic references also can be useful if you need more references to add to your professional resume.
University professors often have a lot on their plates, and sometimes your face can get lost in the crowd. Choose professors as resume references who have seen you in a small classroom environment and who know you and your academic work. Maybe you’ve met with them to discuss a paper or have spoken up in their seminar – resume references who remember qualities you’ve proven in person are more valuable on a resume than one who can list only your grades.
Often employers need only professional contacts and will ask you to omit personal references or relations from your resume. But some fellowship and scholarship applications like to hear proof of your character and cooperation in personal settings as well as professional.
Good personal resume references are more than just a best friend and relative, who can be just a little biased! Coaches, advisers, and coworkers who have become close friends have credibility in the eyes of your resume readers, but also can have glowing things to say about you and make wonderful references for your personal character.
Make sure to speak with your references before you include them in your application, and ask if they feel comfortable speaking to your potential employers about your skills. You might want to include your references separately from your resume. Remember: The most important factor in choosing your resume references is their impression of you, not their relationship to you.