In most cases you will be asked for references when you are interviewing, so be prepared!
Most companies will ask for references before they extend an offer to you so you should always be prepared to supply, at the very least, three references that will vouch for your character and say positive things about you. So, what do I mean by being prepared? Make sure you speak to your references before you submit them to any company. Find out what your reference is going to say about you, if they were to be called.
That sounds simple, doesn’t it? I wish it were that simple. You would be surprised how many times I have done references on candidates and the reference didn’t say anything positive. What? That’s right, didn’t say anything positive about the candidate! Now, how does this happen? It happens when you ASSUME that someone will say something positive about you. Do not ASSUME!
The polite thing to do is to make sure you contact any person you are thinking about having as a reference. Nobody likes to get a reference call out of the blue about someone they know, or used to work with, it’s uncomfortable. So, contact them and ask if they received a call from a company about a reference on you, what would they say? And, if they say positive things, ask if you can use them as a reference. I would also recommend you tell them what you are doing. Especially, if you are currently working and you want it to be held in confidence.
Another thing, you do not have to supply references to a company unless they ask for them. It is standard to put on your resume “references available upon request”. If you want to add a separate page of letters of recommendation along with your resume, that’s fine, but it’s not necessary. You will be asked for references before they make any kind of offer to you. Now, here’s a little secret (don’t tell anyone) most companies do not call references! Even though they ask for them! Do you know why? Because they assume if you supplied them with references, they must be good references, right?
The problem is, you will not know which companies are going to call your references, or not, so you need to be prepared. I hope this helps.
Good luck to you!