You have been busy perfecting your resume, practicing your resume skills, researching opportunities, and completing all other aspects of the job search. Yet, you cannot forget one of the most important parts of the job search, your references. Once hiring managers begin to contact your references, they are seriously considering you as a potential employee. Therefore, your references are crucial to helping you secure the job.

Utilize the following guide to select the best references, present them effectively, network with each reference, as well as show your gratitude during your job search.

Selecting Your References.
When selecting your references, you want to pick three to five individuals who have thorough knowledge of your skills and accomplishments as well as a willingness to provide positive feedback on your performance in the workplace. You also will want to consider selecting a variety of references from different areas of your professional history, including both educational and professional references. Ideally, your references will be supervisors, mentors, and clients who can speak about the value you offer, as well as your work ethics and attributes. These individuals are more valuable to hiring managers than your colleagues or any personal references.

Presenting Your References.
You should never list your references on your resume; rather you should create a separate list of references on your resume letterhead. Unless the job posting or hiring manager specifically requests your references, do not send them to the hiring manager until you are asked to do so. You should bring a printed list to your interview. If the hiring manager does not ask for it first, offer it at the conclusion of the interview.
In addition, when creating your list of references, you should include their full name, current job title, employer, address, phone number, and email address. This makes it very easy and convenient for hiring managers to contact the individuals.

Networking with Your References.
As you know, it is crucial to maintain contact with your professional network, especially during the job search. When you begin the process, it is best to meet for coffee or catch up over the phone to inform them of your job search as well as ask them to serve as a reference for you. Never list a reference without asking for permission from the individual first. Once they are aware of your job search, they refer your for new opportunities that develop. This is also a great time to ensure you have their current contact information and provide them with a copy of your current resume.
You should maintain contact with them throughout the job search to let them know about your progress and perhaps collect advice. In addition, when the hiring manager does ask for you to provide your list of references, inform each individual about the job opening and explain how you think you will successfully fit into this new position.

Thanking Your References.
Whether the hiring manager contacted your references or not, you should reach out to the individual and personally thank him for helping you as you grow in your career. A handwritten thank you letter is an appropriate way to show your gratitude and also enforce your professional network.

During the busyness of the job search process, do not forget about your references. Their feedback on your work ethic, professionalism, and personality are often the deciding factor for hiring managers. If you are ready to start the search for your dream job, tap into your network now!

Author's Bio: 

As the owner of the resume writing, outplacement, and career-consulting firm, DMD & Associates, Danielle guides her clients through every step of career development. Contact Danielle at Danielle@dmdcareerconsutling.com, (337) 254-0734, or www.dmdcareerconsulting.com. For more career advice and tips, like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DMDCareerConsulting and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CareerCoachGuru.