References | Referral Documents

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KNOWLEDGE IS POWER … going into an interview knowing what potential employers will see will allow you to mitigate any issues there might be in your personal and career history.

A process that you can 100% predict will occur during the interview process is Reference Checking; 99.9% of all positions will require a formal Professional Reference Check (PR) process.  A PR is typically from a former employer, colleague, client, vendor, or supervisor.  Recent college graduates might request references from professors, coaches and college personnel.  The key is choosing references that have observed you acting in a productive capacity.  The PR speaks to the applicant’s employability and work-related qualities.

When selecting individuals to act as your references, consider the qualifications for the position(s) you are applying for; who can vouch for the skills and attributes that are most critical for success. As such, your choices might differ based on requirements of various positions you are applying for.  Place priority on people who know your work well contrary to picking the highest ranking individual.

Make sure that the individual you select is comfortable providing a positive recommendation.  Many candidates make the mistake of assuming a person will provide a strong endorsement when they are only prepared to provide a mediocre evaluation.

The best way to gain a perspective on how a reference might represent your background is to request a recommendation for your file

Providing References

When you apply for a job, you may be asked for a Reference List either after a job interview or when you apply; sample suggestions (contact us for more):

  1. When you provide a PR to a prospective employer, include the person’s name, job title, company, address, phone number and email address
  2. Be sure that you have the person’s permission to use them as a reference before you give out their contact information
  3. Keep your references appraised of your progress throughout the hiring process

Personal | Character References

A Personal Reference, also known as a Character Reference (CR), is a reference provided by an individual who can vouch for your character and abilities. Unlike Professional References, a CR should be from someone who knows you well enough to provide good insight into your personality and character; you could use an individual you have worked with but NOT someone you worked for (under).

A CR will include basics, e.g. the relationship, how long you have known them, etc…  anyone who can attest to your work ethic, reliability, and your ability to achieve in an employment or academic setting can give you a CR. You can ask business acquaintances, teachers, professors/academic advisors, volunteer leaders, religious workers, friends, and coaches. A family member or spouse should not provide a personal reference.


Remember Always Ask Before Using Someone for Reference

Be sure to contact your potential references before you give out their information to ensure that they are comfortable and willing to take on such a role. Sending a thank-you note or email for taking the time to write the reference will demonstrate your gratitude.

Keep in mind, that if you are employed or have worked in the past, employers will check with your previous employers. However, if you work record isn’t perfect you can bolster your candidacy with a good Personal Reference. If you are looking for your first job, you can use CRs instead.

There are many types of Sample References and Recommendation Letters, RII can assist in gathering information, putting together documents and making sure there is a combination of professional and personal references to prepare.  RII can provide tips for:

  • Requesting references, giving references, and when someone declines to give recommendations
  • Advice on who to ask for a reference or recommendation, as well as advice on how to request
  • And MORE

 Sample Types of Recommendation Letters | References

There are several common types of recommendation letters, e.g. letters for employment, for college or graduate school, and online networking sites …There are also academic letters of recommendation, character references, and LinkedIn references

Character | Personal References

Concerned about the references your employer might give you … do you have limited work experience … consider using a character reference in addition to or as an alternative to employment reference letters

Academic Recommendations

High school and college students, as well as students applying to graduate school, might rely on teachers and professors for references


When sending a resume and cover letter, unless specifically requested, you should NOT include your Reference List with your application.


Your Name


City, State Zip


Cell Phone | Email



Title Manager

Widget, Inc.


City, State Zip

Phone | Email



Widget II, Inc.


City, State Zip

Phone | Email


Title Manager

Widget III, Inc.


City, State Zip

Phone | Email

Always Provide More than Required


Contact us for Advise on The Best Types to Utilize for your Unique Set of Circumstances


You can’t control what your ex-employer will say about you, but you can be proactive and prepare

RII Can Assist | Here are Samples of Standard Reference Check Questions:

  1. Could you confirm starting and ending employment dates?
  2. Why did (name) leave the company?
  3. What was her/his starting and ending salary?
  4. What was her/his position? Can you describe the responsibilities?
  5. Could I briefly review (name’s) resume? Does the job title, and job description match the position (name) held?
  6. Were there any issues you are aware of that impacted her/his job performance?
  7. How did (name) handle conflict?
  8. Did you evaluate (name’s) performance?
  9. Would you rehire (name) if the opportunity arose?
  10. Can you describe this person’s experience being a part of a team?