How many job references should I provide?

How many references?

When a hiring company asks for only 2-3 references, they are setting you up to lose the job.¬†Here at Career Tracker, we want you to think about providing more than the ho-hum, standard 2-3 references that the hiring company requested. Please also check out our guide on how to prep your references so they don’t blow it for you ūüôā¬†

Career Tracker feels you should provide a minimum of 4-6 references. Most companies have a minimum number of references they need to hear from before they consider your hire complete and that is all they ask for. 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 this up 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 most companies expect candidates to have notified their references. References should be cooperative and if they are not, this creates hesitation around the candidacy. If you can’t manage the people who are supposed to be singing your praises, how will you manage the employer’s valuable assets, clients, employees, etc?¬†

Remove all hesitation

The way to remove any and all hesitation is to provide more references than are 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

Confidence building

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 references required. The hiring company needs 3 references, but we are taking no chances. 
  2. We show various relationships so the hiring company knows we treat everyone equally. This shows that we don’t just treat people who are senior to us well. We treat peers, mentees, and clients/vendors/customers with the utmost respect and deliver results across the spectrum.

Key Takeaway: Provide a variety of references and give them a heads up. Help them help us by letting them know what to communicate to the hiring company.


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