You’ve applied for your dream job, impressed the employer with your resumé, daz­zled the hiring man­ager at the inter­view, and are now one step away to get­ting an offer. All that’s left is for the com­pany to check in with your references—the people who will vouch for you as a qual­i­fied employee, co-​​worker, or peer.

It can be hard to iden­tify the best people to speak on your behalf, so we turned to Sab­rina Woods, asso­ciate director of Northeastern’s career devel­op­ment office. Here, Woods offers  five tips for choosing your references—and then making the most of them.

Whom to ask

Your former man­agers from past co-​​ops or intern­ships are great options for your first choice. It’s best if you report to that person, but as addi­tional ref­er­ences, you could include co-​​workers with whom you work closely. You want to make sure you pick indi­vid­uals who know you well and can speak clearly and pos­i­tively about your strengths and past contributions.

While co-​​op and intern­ship super­vi­sors are ideal, you can also con­sider man­agers from part-​​time and vol­un­teer jobs. If you haven’t had very many co-​​ops or part-​​time jobs, you can also con­sider asking professors.

How to ask

You could ask via email or phone. It’s great to express how much you would appre­ciate having them as a ref­er­ence. Typ­i­cally, they’ll need to answer a few ques­tions over the phone about you. If it has been sev­eral years since you worked with them, you’ll want to remind them when you worked for them and what kinds of tasks and projects you did.

Best prac­tices

Get­ting asked for a list of ref­er­ences could happen before, during, or after an inter­view. So you’ll want to get them in order at the begin­ning of your job search.

After you’ve been asked for a list of ref­er­ences, you’ll want to email all your ref­er­ences (who have already agreed to vouch for you) to let them know they might be get­ting a call from the hiring employer. It’s a good idea to send your ref­er­ences an up-​​to-​​date ver­sion of your resumé  as well as a copy of the job descrip­tion. You could also include any per­ti­nent ques­tions that came up during the inter­view. If you can let your ref­er­ences know what aspects of the job are most impor­tant, they can address those areas when giving the reference.

What to include on your ref­er­ence sheet

You can use the “header” from your resumé so your con­tact infor­ma­tion is at the top. Then write the word “Ref­er­ences” below that. List three to four ref­er­ences, including every person’s job title, employer, and com­pany address as well as his or her phone number and email address.
 
Keep ref­er­ences up-​​to-​​date and express your gratitude

Con­tinue to keep your ref­er­ences informed about addi­tional inter­views and where you are in the job-​​hunting process. After you land a posi­tion, you’ll want to thank them for being a ref­er­ence and share your good news.