Career planning from a résumé – gaining references

Using a resume to plan for careers, youth can take action to gain references.

Attention students in high school! Think about this question: If you were going to apply for a job tomorrow, are there three to five people who can serve as a reference for you? Are these references adults other than family members who know you really well? If the answer is yes, that’s great. If the answer is no, there is still time to make plans to put yourself in position to receive the right references for your future job or career. According to Michigan State University Extension, references are important because employers will ask potential employees for references. 

From a career preparation perspective, students can use each section of a resume like the objective, education, work experience, activities, skills, and yes, references to plan for their career. To start planning how to utilize references, it helps to know the different types of references for job seekers. Scott Knickelbine of Demand Media states in the Houston Chronicle there are two types of references for jobs.  They are: 

  • Professional References – people who have worked with you and can speak to your job performance from direct observation. 
  • Personal References – Personal references are people who know you well, and who can speak to your personal character.

How can students take the steps to begin receiving references for jobs? First, it is beneficial for students to begin participating in different after-school activities such as 4-H, music or band, sports, computer or technology clubs, or art and theatre clubs. Whatever interests youth and if there is a school, or after-school, related activity for it, they should participate in it. Other activities that will assist students in receiving references for jobs are gaining a part-time job or volunteering in the community.

These activities put students in position to become recognized by adult leaders or supervisors. Speaking of recognition, students should strive to demonstrate positive character, take on leadership roles or strive to put forth great efforts to provide positive impacts. Just participating in the activity or having a job is not enough. The effort to strive to do great things in the activity or job is needed. Positive character combined with active participation in an activity or job gives future references great things to say about the student participant/worker. These are the types of comments that assist in helping people gain jobs.

For assistance, Michigan 4-H Youth Development has resources to help students learn about positive character that can assist in activities and jobs. As high school students, plan to not only participate in activities, but demonstrate the positive character and great work ethic for positive impacts.

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