Not sure how to handle references and recommendations in your job search? Here's the skinny:
1. Focus on getting references from people you reported to. For example, if you're a store manager, ask your past district managers. If you're an assistant store manager, ask your store managers. References from peers and people who reported to you are acceptable as well, but a reference from past leaders can provide more value.
2. Ask the person in advance if they'll be a reference for you - don't wait until you've already mentioned them to the recruiter. You need their permission first, and it would be pretty embarrassing (and unprofessional) if you submitted their name and then needed to retract.
3. Make a list of your references and have it available in case the recruiter asks for it (if they don't ask for it in the interview, offer it). This list should contain 3-5 professional references and include their name, company, job title (or former job title if you're connected to them through a previous position), phone number, and/or email address.
4. Don't include references on your resume, especially contact information such as phone numbers or email addresses. Resumes are often distributed widely and you wouldn't want your personal contact information all over the place. Respect their confidentiality.
5. Don't put "References Available Upon Request" at the bottom of your resume. It's out-dated and will make you look out of touch. Besides, recruiters will ask for references whether that's on your resume or not.
6. Don't send your references with your resume and cover letter, unless requested. It's too soon for that - they haven't decided whether you're qualified for the position yet. Don't get ahead of yourself, but have the list ready.
What about written recommendations?
References and recommendations are slightly different. References are people who agree to be contacted in the future, while a recommendation is generally something that has been written in the past (previously in letter form, but now more often on LinkedIn). People who write recommendations may also agree to be a reference, but you still need to ask - don't assume.
Recommendations can be extremely valuable in your job search, and I recommend getting as many as you can for your LinkedIn profile. They hold a lot of power because recruiters can click on the profile of the person making the recommendation and see their background as well. They are much more important than the skill endorsement feature on LinkedIn.
If you have great recommendations on your profile, you can integrate them into your resume. One option is to pull a short, powerful quote out of a recommendation and showcase it in bold in a prominent position on your resume, followed by the person's job title and company. Another option is to say something like "10+ recommendations from past supervisors and peers on LinkedIn" and then follow that with a link to your profile.
If your recommendations are truly impressive, don't sit back and hope the recruiter finds them - promote them in your resume, cover letter, and other communications. It's all about making the best possible impression.
Hope that helps!
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