Keeping track of job references you use is always a good idea. It allows you to organize your current job search by collecting all the information in one easy-to-read table. You can also refer back to these records in the future to maintain your network or even if you re-enter the job market.
The Master List
If you are giving every employer the same reference list, the only table you need is your master list. This includes all of the information for each reference you have. Not all of it will be included in the job reference page you hand to employers, but it’s a good idea to keep comprehensive records just in case someone changes their contact information.
Your master list should have one row for every person you use as a reference. Some column titles you might consider include:
The reference’s full name, including preferred prefix (Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs.) if you know it.
The organization the reference works for. If different from when you worked together, make a note in the final column naming where and when you were colleagues.
- Job Title
The reference’s job title. Again, if different from when you worked together, note the change in the final column of the table.
- Phone number (preferred)
The phone number your contact is most likely to answer. This is the phone number you should use on the job reference list you give employers.
- Alt. phone number
An alternate phone number where you can reach your reference in the future if their preferred number changes.
- Email address (preferred)
Typically the email address your contact checks the most often. However, if this happens to be a particularly unprofessional email address, use something else.
- Alt. email address
An email address you can use in a pinch but don’t necessarily expect a quick answer from.
Any additional things you want to remember about this reference. In addition to the suggestions above, this might include where you met or a brief list of projects you worked on together.
The Submission Tracker
If you are applying for several different types of jobs or simply don’t want to overwhelm your references with too many calls and emails, you may want to send different reference lists depending on the employer. If this is the case, you need a way to track which references accompanied each application.
In this spreadsheet, use different rows for each prospective employer. Next to each employer’s name you should list the job title you were applying for, the date you submitted the reference list, and the phone number and email address you used for each reference.
Regardless of whether you use just the master list or leverage both templates for keeping track of job references, it is essential that you keep them updated. It isn’t just about making sure you have the most current phone numbers so future employers can reach your references, either. If one of your references receives a promotion, the new job title could add extra weight to their good opinion of your work ethic.
When interviewing for a new position, it’s always a good idea to give your references a heads up that they could be receiving a call from a potential employer for you. Once you get a new position, follow-up and share the good news by sending a thank you note or giving them a quick phone call to thank them for helping you land that new role! –Vickie Krolak, iHire HR Pro
Download templates for the master job reference list and the submission tracker at the top of this article.