Who to Use as a Reference & How to Go About it

Many job seekers spend a great deal of time researching prospective employers, polishing their cover letters & resumes, and preparing for job interviews; however, they often neglect one important aspect of the job search process, and that is to ask people to be their references. Sometimes your references can make or break a job opportunity for you; therefore, you have to be careful about who you include. 

If you’re a bit lost about who to use as a reference and how to go about it here are a few pointers to help you out.

Who should you use?

1. Your current or former bosses

Your supervisors make good references, as they know about your reliability and professional abilities, and if they can put in a good word for you, you have a much better chance of landing a job. However, if you left a company on bad terms, then it’s probably best that you avoid using your supervisors from that company as your references, as you don’t want any negative words to be exchanged about you as a person or your work performance.

Also, it goes without saying that if your current employer is unaware that you are looking for a new job, DO NOT use them as a reference. A call from another employer regarding your application isn’t exactly the most subtle way of revealing that you are looking to jump ship and you don’t want to jeopardise your current role if you have not yet made any progress in your job hunt.

2. Co-workers

Your former co-workers know your strengths as a team player and are likely the have got to know you pretty well as an individual too, having worked with you on a daily basis. Have you helped out some co-workers in the past or worked on a successful project together? If so they will most likely have something positive to say about you.

3. Customers/ clients

If you have a good relationship with some customers or clients during your time working in a particular role, ask them if they can be your references. This is particularly useful if you are looking for work in the service sector or a client facing role, as it puts an emphasis on your customer service and communication abilities.

4. Faculty members

If you are a new graduate, you may not have much work experience. In this case, you can use faculty members such as your professors or personal tutor as your references. They know about your learning ability, time management and productivity; which are all qualities that are transferrable for a work environment. 

How should you go about it?

Now that you know who to use as your references, there are several things that you should keep in mind.

Ask for permission to use someone as a reference.

Before you give out someone’s contact information as your reference, get their permission first. Most people will say yes but it’s a common courtesy to ask for permission.

Get the details of each reference.

You need more than just their names and phone numbers. Make sure that you know their current position, company name, business phone numbers, as well as their personal contact information, including email address because some employers prefer to make contact by email.

Prepare your references.

Make sure that your references know what type of positions you are applying for. Give them a copy of your latest resume, and point out any skills and accomplishments that you would like to highlight.

Thank you references.

Whether your references were contacted by your prospective employers or not, make sure that you thank them for their help.