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Talent & Recruitment
Feb 3, 2010 | Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) lock

When an employer asks you for your references, having solid references–and having them readily available—is critical and reinforces your image as a professional salesperson. 

Traditional wisdom has been to have them already prepared to hand into the lead interviewer at the end of the interview,however you should also have them in electronic form.  Here are some tips to get you started:

1. List your full contact name and contact information at the top of your reference list.

2. Make sure that your references are up-to-date. Save the names of your references along with their full contact details in Microsoft Outlook using the “Contact” feature under the File option.

3.   Regularly maintain contact with your references and let them know about opportunities you have applied for and have upcoming interviews. Use the opportunity to double-check if any of their contact information needs to be updated.

4.  Make it easy for the person checking your references. Save your reference list in both Adobe PDF and HTML formats.

5. If appropriate, divide up your list and identify your references (e.g. business/work). Be sure to include a mix of people in your list:  superiors, subordinates, peers/colleagues, suppliers, distributors, customers etc. 

6. Aim for one contact from each place of employment and never provide less than 3 references.  As a safety measure, have a back-up reference list, including the names of additional managers, peers, subordinates, and customers or suppliers should you be asked for more.

7. If you are currently employed, be clear on who the prospective employer can and cannot contact for reasons of confidentiality.  This is especially relevant if the prospective employer is a competitor.

8. Give your references advance notice. Let your references know that they may receive a call from an individual/company. Review with your references in general what they would share with prospective employers and relate the details about the position you are applying for.

9. In addition to bringing a copy of your references to the interview, offer to email your reference list to the hiring manager and interview team to allow for another contact opportunity and for follow-up purposes.

Good luck!

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The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) is a national organization of 30000 sales and marketing professionals. Members receive significant savings on travel, business costs and more. The CPSA also offers exclusive sales training and certification programs.

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