Finding References

Joyce writes:
What can I do if I can’t find a reliable reference? I am about to graduate for the second time (2nd college degree in social work first is in sociology) and I cannot seem to find anyone willing to write letters of reference for me or either be a reliable reference. I live in a small town where jealousy appears to run rampant. What can I do?

The Career Doctor responds:
Wow you raise an interesting question. For college graduates college would be the ideal places to get/request people to be references:

  1. College professors. Any professors you have worked closely with had for several classes or was an adviser to an organization you belonged to would make a great reference.
  2. College administrators. Any management-level administrators who you worked closely with would make a great reference.
  3. Internship/Volunteer Work supervisors. Anyone who has supervised your actual work patterns would make an ideal reference.
  4. Former employment supervisors. As long as your employment does not go too far back those people who supervised your work – even if the work were
    waitressing or working in retail – would be a good reference.
  5. Character references. Anyone who can discuss your character as a person such as a family friend clergy person etc. would make a good reference.

Some other comments about references. Requesting people to be a prospective reference is much better than asking them to write a generic letter of recommendation which many employers discount. In this case you simply need the name (with correct spelling) title and contact information for each person who is willing to be a reference. Then let the employers contact the people directly. Finally never list actual references on your resume. Have a separate piece of paper (that matches your resume format) that lists your references – and make sure the people you list know they will be on your reference list.
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