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How many job references?

job references

Is your recruiter able to reach the 2 job references you provided?

How many job references should I provide? 

Congrats! We landed a job offer and the hiring company is going to check your job references. Today, I want us to think about providing more than the ho-hum, standard 2-3 job references that the hiring company requested. 

Most companies ask for 2-3 references. I suggest that candidates should provide a minimum of 4-6 references. Most companies have a minimum number of job references they need to hear from before they consider your hire complete. They usually don’t ask for more than this minimum number. If the hiring company is looking to call 2-3 references, and we provide 2-3 but a few are not reachable, this can become frustrating for the hiring company. Hiring companies want to finish up this process just as quickly the candidate does. They want to get this open position off their desk and move onto the next hire. Frustration can lead to doubt because it is just human nature to expect that candidates have notified their references. Job references should be cooperative and if they are not, this creates doubt in us as a candidate. Why wouldn’t your reference be returning the phone call? The only reason is they don’t want to endorse us.

Remove all doubt

The way to remove all doubt is to provide more job references then requested. This ensures that the minimum number of references can be reached in the shortest amount of time. The below is a great format that gives the perception that we are completely transparent, have nothing to hide and are a great candidate.

  Name            Relationship                 Email                     Phone

Sam Smith                  Lead                             425-123-1234

Jane Doe                     Peer                               425-123-1235

Johnny Rex                Vendor                      425-123-1236

Jackie Oh                   Prior VP                     425-123-1237

Simon                          Mentee                       425-123-1238

Malcolm H                 Mentor                   425-123-1239

The above format provides a number of confidence builders for the hiring company:

  1. We make it really easy to reach the minimum number of job references required. The hiring company needs 3 references, but we are taking no chances. They will be able to get ahold of 3 when we provide so many 4-6.
  2. We show various relationships so the hiring company knows we treat everyone equally. This gives a proof point that we don’t just treat people who are senior to us with respect. This Nasty move shows we treat mentees and vendors with respect as well and deliver what is needed consistently across the spectrum.

Give these job references a heads up and help them help us by letting them know what to communicate.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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