Employment “How To” Guide

Professional References

Prepared by: Kali Giaritta, Renaissance Vocational Services

Tips for putting together a strong reference sheet:

  1. Choose AT LEAST three different people to approach about acting as your reference.
  2. Reach out to everyone you are using as a reference to make sure they are comfortable being a reference for you and to confirm that you have their current and preferred contact information. It can also help to tell them about the types of jobs you’ll be applying for so that they can target what they share about you.
  3. Choose people who know you well and who you are confident will speak highly of you.
  4. Shoot for a variety of references, rather than all people from the same place. Good references could be: a past manager, volunteer coordinator, former colleague, teacher/college advisor that you are close with, or a past business partner. Avoid using family members or friends if possible, unless they are also colleagues.
  5. If you have a wide range of experience, you can have many different references that you pick and choose from to target your reference sheet for each position.

Dealing with hard to find contacts:


Your Name


(503) 111-1111

Organization where you know your reference from

Contact name, their relation to you (number of years you worked together)

(503) 222-2222


Food Mart

John Doe, Direct Supervisor (3 years)

(503) 333-3333


American Red Cross

Jane Brown, Volunteer Coordinator (2 years)

(503) 444-4444

email@redcross.comReferences are often a required part of an application but they may be requested at any step in the process, even after the interview. It is important to have a reference sheet prepared when you are conducting an active job search because you never know when it might be needed. Below you will find a brief how-to for putting together your references, and a sample reference sheet that you can use to model your own.