One often under-developed part of getting a new job by a job seeker is references. Typically, a job seeker gets all the contact information of someone who will say nice things about them. They may even go so far as asking permission from the references to us their name.
Again, the Government of Canada has a great (free) resource http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/plcy-pltq/guides/checking-verification/app-ann-3-eng.htm. Here are the recommendations made that are suitable for any job seeker:
1. Your references should have had an adequate opportunity to observe you in job-relevant situations. Therefore, the referee should have an in-depth and direct knowledge of your work and be able to answer specific questions pertaining to your achievements and strengths. Too often, job seekers use references that have superficial knowledge of their work behaviours. Focus on people that you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Also, a good practice is to "refresh" your references memory about what great things you accomplished. If someone asks me to be their reference, I ask them to email 10 things they are proud of doing while working with me/for me (I can choose whether I agree or not but at least it gives me a starting point).
2. Your references should have worked with you recently and generally for at least six months within the last five years. Trust me, many references can't remember what you did last week, forget about 7 years ago.
3. Your references should be open and candid in communicating relevant information about your work performance. If a reference is going to be brief and not provide details, they will not give the hiring manager the information they are looking for.
4. You references should be available. I know this is obvious, but in my experience, some references are impossible to track down and some never return phone calls. If possible, use a reference's mobile contact information so they can be reached away from their desk or home.
5. Consider providing your referees with a copy of your résumé that you submitted, a copy of the job advertisement and any other relevant information. This can give them the context of the job and they might give examples that "fit" with the job requirements.
Spend as much time managing your references as you do rewriting your resume. Your resume gets you the interview; your references likely will get you the job offer