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Cover Letters and References: Why They are Important and Good to Have Ready

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Let’s face it, applying for jobs online can be a tedious task. While arguably there are

better ways to find a new job, many people still apply for job openings they find online.

When you do this, part of the application process can include submitting a cover letter

and even a few references. There are several reasons to have a cover letter template

and references readily available.

Some employers continue to place importance on a cover letter. According to, cover letters still hold value for employers, “A cover letter shows the

employer that you take the job opportunity seriously and are prepared to take more

initiative to be considered for the job.” Sure, they may not even look at your cover letter

or only skim a line or two, but even its presence with your application could speak

volumes to an employer. Since it’s best to have one, use it to your advantage. Highlight

anything that shows off your skills and how you would excel at the required duties for

the job.

Having a list of references ready serves more than one purpose. Think of your

references as more than just a list of previous managers. Even if you aren’t readily

looking for a job, keeping in touch with people who can serve as references for you

allow you to hear about opportunities you otherwise might not. In a way, it’s another

form of networking. So, stay in touch with people who can vouch for your work ethic and

keep their contact information handy. Also, regularly check in that they are okay with still

serving as your reference so they don’t get any surprise calls from future employers.

When you should use your references. It’s a good idea to have references available just

about anytime. Again, you may not even be looking for a new position, but continually

staying in touch with people who you have a professional relationship with is good for

your career. Definitely have a list of references ready to go before you attend an

interview. Think about how impressive it is to pull out a list of 3-5 professional

references when told you can send those over later. Even if you’re not asked for them,

you could leave behind a list as you leave an in-person interview.

With so much changing in the ways we job search today, it’s easy to think details like

cover letters and reference lists are outdated. But, there are employers that still put an

emphasis on these documents, so you’re covering all of your bases to have them

prepared ahead of time. Use any chance you can to stand out to a future employer. The

best strategy is to use them to your advantage by pointing out what makes you great in

a cover letter and letting others brag about you as a reference.

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