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Diversify Your Reference List


Matt Leverich

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One major issue seems to come up in the vast majority of references -- no diversification! What does this mean? Well, most only list their peers (superintendents) on their references page. While this might be a good idea for finding an assistant position, it really is not the best approach for a superintendent opening, particularly if you are applying blind with no connections to the hiring club.

Listing your peers may prove that you know or come recommended by industry veterans, but it doesn't show any hiring person how you can work with actual club officials and members or their impressions of your abilities. Plus, if you get a little creative with your list it can show possible talents or connections not typically seen.

Listing your peers may prove that you know or come recommended by industry veterans, but it doesn't show any hiring person how you can work with actual club officials and members...

A strong reference list should always contain the following:

  • Direct Supervisor or GM
  • Club Official or Green Chairman
  • Club Member(s)
  • PGA Professional

These key figures show how well you can work with the team at a club in unique ways. If you are attempting to be confidential with your application, then you obviously can't use officials from your current club. But you should try to find officials from other clubs you know, such as former employers, to help augment your list. If you are an assistant you should absolutely be using all officials mentioned previously.

Listing a few references from outside the club, or even industry, is a creative way to stand out. For example, listing a construction contractor can show you are experienced with projects. A controller or accountant may show you know more about finances and budgeting than the average applicant. An industry media or Association official can show your involvement in the industry and game of golf overall. All of these examples are rarely done on references and offer a fresh perspective to the hiring person while reviewing countless resumes.

Listing a few references from outside the club, or even industry, is a creative way to stand out.

So work on your networking and relationships with club officials and get them onto your references list. It is one of the more powerful things you can do for your resume.

Note:  Last year I put together some basic tips and guidelines for sending a solid References page with your career documents. In it, I included a small bit about diversifying your list, but felt this needed its own post due to how many times I see it. You can view the full references overview from last year here.

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