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I am about to complete my degree and look for jobs.

Having worked as a developer in open source projects, what is the etiquette for asking mentors or managers for references in a resume?

Also what is the best way to put it in the resume (hard copy)?

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I wouldn't put references in a resume. I also would not leave in anything to the effect of "references available upon request". It's not uncommon for companies to ask for contact information for managers, supervisors, or coworkers from previous jobs at some point in the process, but there's no need to include any of that information on a resume. Use a resume for exactly what it is intended to be used for, which is to provide an overview of your education, experiences, and knowledge to a potential employer.

As far as reaching out to potential references, if you are actively looking for a new job, you should reach out to people early. Let them know you are in the process of looking for a new job and ask if they are willing to be a reference. If they are willing, they should provide their most recent contact information that's appropriate. Keep this information until a company you are applying to asks for it.

In terms of who to ask, most places I've seen expect you to provide contact information for your immediate supervisor during your job. If your immediate supervisor is not available, then someone that you worked closely with. I've never seen a company ask for references from places that were not considered employment (as an example, volunteer opportunities or open source contributions), with the exception of a character reference (who can be someone that you know personally but have never worked with).

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  • Nicely written! I'd add that I have seen volunteer "supervisor" references in cases where the candidate is new to the industry. And - as you are collecting reference contact info, also make note if there's anything they expect from you before you give their name out - I typically let my references know I've used them when I am asked to list references, and I even send them a link to the job posting and sometimes my resume (if we haven't seen each other in a bit). Jul 17 '12 at 14:34
  • please more on how to "ask if they are willing"
    – nischayn22
    Jul 17 '12 at 14:57
  • @nischayn22 What do you mean? You write, email, call, or visit them and ask if they are willing to be a reference. Some people (for various reasons) do not wish to be used as a reference. There's nothing to really explain. Jul 17 '12 at 15:13
  • @ThomasOwens I meant to ask if there is a way of asking that doesn't hamper the relation, or should it be just straightforward?
    – nischayn22
    Jul 17 '12 at 15:15
  • @nischayn22 Asking someone to be a reference shouldn't hamper a relation. If it's your current employer, you have to take other things into consideration (such as breaking the news that you're actively looking for other jobs and preparing for interviews), but that's beyond the scope of this discussion. Jul 17 '12 at 15:19
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Why would you be looking to put your mentor's reference on your resume? If you have a good relationship with him/her, then they're most valuable as a networking aid. Mentors/doctoral professors/similar people are, as far as networking opportunities go, second only to CEO's you meet accidentally on the train. What i mean by that is that most of the time, they'll know a LOT of people in the industry. And, hopefully, their name will carry some weight. Helping you find a position by putting you into contact with others can be much more beneficial to you than putting it on your resume, since you'll still get the implied reference/recommendation from the mentor because they're putting you into contact with the company.

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  • +1 for the additional info you gave on networking opportunities, could you elaborate on how to approach a mentor for these?
    – nischayn22
    Jul 17 '12 at 14:55
  • it really depends on your relationship with them. Sometimes, simply mentioning that you're going to start looking for a job, and asking if they would have any advice/places they could point you to begin with will work. Also, i don't know what kind of mentor you're talking about. I realize, now that i've re-read my answer, that I was talking mostly about academic/doctoral professor type mentors. Thus, my advice might not be the most applicable for a workplace mentor.
    – acolyte
    Jul 17 '12 at 15:21
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Add the mentor to the CV/resume if naming them adds to the quality of the resume, but only if they truly were a mentor or adviser. If they barely knew you, then you will get caught when they contact your mentor. You don't say you clerked for a judge, you say you clerked for Supreme Court Justice X.

If the name is not recognizable to and respected by the people reading your resume, or you can't defend it, it can actually detract. It looks like name dropping.

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