Knowing just who you should list a a reference on civilian job applications when you are a veteran in the job seeking market can be difficult as can knowing just what is the best way to make use of your reference list, or even who you should actually include on it. Here are some basic, simple pointers that should help:
Job Hunters References – Who to List
Deciding just who you should list as a reference when job hunting is an issue that you need to give more thought to than you might realize. You may be able to guarantee that your close friends will always give you a great and glowing reference they are not the right people to list. Instead consider:
Former Commanding Officers – Most former commanding officers will normally be happy to serve as a formal job referee if asked. These people often impress prospective employers the most as they can provide insight into your honesty and integrity, reliability, initiative and ability to work with others, as well as the more practical information about how you performed your duties while in service.
Former Colleagues – Former colleagues can also be useful references as they too have experience of working alongside you. Just as teamwork is crucial in the service it is essential in most civilian employment situations as well and these are the very people who can provide testimony and insight just what a great team player you were.
Community Figures – Many veterans are active in their community and they are certainly appreciated for that. As any employer looks for individuals who are as well rounded as possible references from prominent community members may be helpful as well.
Getting Permission From Your References
Just as important as figuring out who to list as a reference is ensuring that you have their permission to do so. It will not create a very good impression if you list a certain person as a reference and then when they do receive a call from a prospective employer they have no idea what they are talking about. If you get the sense that a person is not that keen to serve as a reference do not push the issue. Thank them politely and then think of someone else, as if a person cannot be relied upon to give you a strong reference you really should not use them.
When you do ask, and receive, permission to use a certain person as a reference do them the courtesy of asking what the best contact number and email address is for you to use. You may personally know your references private office line number but they may not be very comfortable with you giving it out to strangers.
Keep Your References Posted
Even once you have received permission to use a person as a reference you should take the time to drop them a courtesy email note to let them know each time you have given their name out as a reference to a potential employer. Doing so is as much for your benefit as theirs as then your reference will be ready when and if they are contacted.
When to Give Your References to a Prospective Employer
You should only really provide reference information when you are asked to provide it. Most prospective employers go through a number of different processes to narrow the field of candidates before they get around to even thinking about checking references so when and if they need yours they will ask.
Where to List Your References
Your resume is not the right place to list your references, you should have a separate reference list that you can provide whenever you are requested to do so. Nor do you really need to add the phrase “references available on request” to a resume these days either as most employers just assume that you will be prepared to do so as a matter of course.
When creating your reference list even though it will be rare that you present the two documents to a prospective employer at the same time you should still ensure that your resume and your reference list compliment one another. That means using the same paper, the same typeface and font size. You also need to prepare the reference list with as much care as you do your resume, checking for typos, grammatical errors and most importantly that all of the contact information is 100% correct.
In years past job-seekers would carry around “to whom it may concern” referral letters to hand out to prospective employers. These days this is not considered particularly acceptable and you should offer a reference list only instead. If you are ever asked for a letter of referral then ask one of your referees to write one that is specifically written in regards to that position.