When it comes to searching for a job, there are two things you already know: Have your resume ready and brush up on your interview skills. But what most job seekers overlook is the importance of references. A good reference could be the deciding factor when an employer narrows down the field to a few potential candidates.

Here are a few tips for putting together your reference list:

Make wise choices

You should pick people who know and can discuss intelligently your abilities that might relate to a particular position you’re applying for.

Foresee trouble spots

Maybe your past manager and you never really saw things eye to eye so choose a coworker at the same level or within the same department you were in to give you a reference. As long as you worked with them, it’s okay to use them on your reference list.

Get permission

Don’t blindside someone by not checking with them first before you put their name down on your reference list. There’s nothing worse than being put on the spot by a call from a hiring manager asking questions about your work ethic and style.

Inform your references

You should always give your references a description of the position you’re applying for and what the hiring employer is looking for. If they have nothing to go on, it’s hard to address a particular company’s needs and wants.

Keep them in the loop

If you’re getting closer to the time when your references will actually be contacted, give them a heads up about a call that might be coming their way. You could also share the actual job posting with them so they can speak about your qualifying skills.

Use your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool when it comes to references. If you already have them set up, it makes it easier to share them with potential employers without having to bother anyone. You can ask for permanent references on your LinkedIn profile for opportunities in general – even those you didn’t know existed!

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