Ask a Coach

Q: Do I need to include references with my resume?

A: It's wise to have at least three professional references prepared for both Federal and private sector resumes. If you are using the USAJobs Resume Builder, there is a References section for this information. If you are uploading your resume to USAJobs or applying for a private sector position, it's up to you whether you include references. If you don't include references, be prepared to be asked for them if you progress to the Interview stage of the hiring process. Although you can include personal references, which are generally friends, coworkers or acquaintances, employers are more interested in your professional references, which includes Supervisors and former Supervisors. If you don't have three Supervisors or former Supervisors to ask to be a reference, you can include coworkers, but be sure they directly observe your day-to-day work and can speak to your work ethic and on your ability to do the job.

Finding Information About a Potential Employer

Going through the job search process can be a stressful task. Finding companies you'd like to work for, writing your resume, interviewing and then deciding whether the company or agency is a good fit can all be a little daunting. So what can you do to make it easier? During this entire process, it is important to find out as much information you can about a potential employer.


When you're starting out the job search process, running an Internet search on potential employers should be your first step. Go to potential employers' web sites to find out as much as you can about them. Find out what the employer does, whom the employer serves, what their particular mission is and also what you might be doing as a potential employee. You can also run an Internet search to see if the employer has been in the news lately. You might hear about potential successes achieved by the employer or possibly even some setbacks. All this information can help determine whether the employer might be a good fit for you.


Information about a potential employer can also help you with targeting your resume to the employer's job posting. If you find out that an employer specializes in a certain field and you have experience in that field, you'll want to make sure you include that information in your resume so the employer knows that you can do the job.

Cover letter

Knowing information about a particular employer will also help when you're writing a cover letter. In order to prove to the employer that you're interested in working for them, you can include information you found on the employer's website or during an Internet search in the cover letter. This shows the employer that you've taken the time to find out about them and aren't just applying to every job posting you can find.


Doing research about the employer can also help you prepare for your interview. If you happen to know your interviewer's name, you can search the Internet for a biography of that person or search for their LinkedIn profile. You can use the information you find to see if you have anything in common with the interviewer in order to build rapport.

Searching for information can help in other ways during the interview. Many times an interviewer will ask, "What do you know about our company?" If you don't do your research beforehand and can't answer this question, the interviewer might think that you don't really care about the company. This is a surefire way to hinder your chances for the position.

Doing your research beforehand can also help when it's time for you to ask questions during your interview. You can incorporate information you found online into the questions you ask. Not only can this help you decide if you're a good fit for the company, you can also show the company that you've done your research about them.