PORTLAND -- Plenty of people are looking for a job, but are you prepared with references to vouch for you?

Human resources managers say having references at the ready, and presenting them to prospective employers properly is a key element for successfully landing the job you want most.

Tara K. Smith is a human resources manager for United Natural Foods, a distributor with a facility in Ridgefield, Washington. Smith said having three to five references available upon request is smart.

Three is your standard rule of thumb, definitely have: who are they, what s their title, what company do they work for, a phone number and an email, said Smith.

Smith also said using relatives as references is not a good idea. He said it's best to stick to supervisors or coworkers who you have worked well with previously. Newcomers to the job market can use teachers or volunteer contacts as references.

Just be sure to ask permission of references, and let them know when they may be getting a call. Also be sure all of your reference contact information is up to date.

After getting it all together, Smith said to make sure you are ready to provide your reference information, as soon as you are asked for it.

If I m an interviewer and I m asking for references, I don t want it to be a week from now that you provide them, Smith said. The expectation is that it s going to be a pretty quick turnaround.

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