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Raising the Bar on References

by Erika Osmundson, AgCareers.com Director of Marketing & Communications

The importance of references during the job search process is often underestimated. In many cases, an employer with two or more candidates may base their final decision on the reference’s responses. It is important to be strategic in who is asked to act as a reference. The general rule of thumb is to provide the potential employer with three references; however providing a fourth reference doesn’t hurt in the case they cannot get a hold of one.

To start, create a list of people that have interacted with you in a number of situations and know you well. Think about people from work, professors/faculty, advisors, mentors, community members, and club/organization affiliates. You want this list to include professional contacts -- your college roommate, grandma or best friend aren’t good choices!

Past managers make good references if departures from the position were amicable and you feel they will provide positive input. If you are unemployed and no references are listed from your most recent employer that can be a red flag to a potential employer.

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