Career Advice

Job References: Practical Advice for Requesting One

Before you can proceed with the scheduled round of interviews, recruiters may want a list of your job references. They might contact your references to ensure you’re qualified for the job you’ve applied for. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a person you can rely on to provide reliable information about you. In this post, we define job references, discuss the several kinds that are accessible, and offer advice on how to pick excellent references.

What exactly are job references?

Job references, often known as recommendations, are people who can attest to your abilities, qualifications, and work ethic. People can attest to your suitability for the position or job you’ve applied for due to their interactions with you. The finest professional references come from a former boss or a coworker. However, the reference may also come from a customer or vendor based on your past position and the people you frequently engage with.

Job references, also known as professional references, are individuals who can vouch for your qualifications, skills, work ethic, and character to potential employers. These references are typically people who have direct knowledge of your professional abilities and can provide insights into your performance in previous job roles or academic settings.

Job references serve as a way for employers to verify the information you’ve provided in your resume or during the interview process. Employers often reach out to these references to gather more information about your work history, accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses, and overall suitability for the position you’re applying for.

References can include:

  1. Former Supervisors or Managers: These are individuals who directly oversaw your work and can speak to your job performance, responsibilities, and accomplishments.
  2. Colleagues: Coworkers who have collaborated closely with you on projects can offer insights into your teamwork, communication skills, and how you interact with others in a professional setting.
  3. Clients or Customers: If your work involved direct interactions with clients or customers, their feedback on your customer service skills and performance can be valuable.
  4. Professors or Teachers: For recent graduates or those with limited work experience, academic references can provide insight into your educational achievements, work ethic, and potential.
  5. Mentors or Advisors: Individuals who have guided you in your professional development, even if not in a direct supervisory role, can speak to your character and growth.
  6. Volunteer or Extracurricular Leaders: If your relevant experience comes from volunteer work or extracurricular activities, leaders or organizers in those areas can provide insights into your skills and dedication.

When providing references, it’s important to ensure that you have obtained permission from the individuals you intend to list. You should also inform your references about the types of positions you’re applying for so that they can tailor their responses to align with the job requirements. It’s a good practice to provide your references with a copy of your resume and a brief overview of the job you’re applying for so they can provide more relevant and impactful information to potential employers.

It’s worth noting that references can play a crucial role in the hiring process, so selecting the right references and maintaining positive relationships with them is important for your job search success.

Types of job references

The three most typical forms of job references you can use are as follows:

Professional references

When you are being interviewed for a job, recruiters will primarily contact your professional job references. They are official recommendations that provide information about your professional abilities and unique on-the-job experience. The references can provide details about your work ethic and general effectiveness in a certain position. The most reliable professional references are often those who monitored your work in your prior position, like managers, supervisors, or other management staff.

Professional references, often referred to as work references, are individuals who can provide information about your skills, qualifications, work performance, and character in a professional setting. These references typically come from people you have worked with or for, and they serve as a way for potential employers to gain insight into your abilities and suitability for a job.

Professional references can include:

  1. Former Supervisors or Managers: These references can speak to your work ethic, job responsibilities, accomplishments, leadership skills, and how you handled challenges in your previous roles.
  2. Colleagues or Coworkers: Coworker references can provide information about your teamwork skills, communication style, collaborative abilities, and how you interacted within the workplace.
  3. Direct Reports: If you’ve been in a managerial role, references from employees who reported to you can showcase your leadership capabilities, management approach, and your ability to mentor and guide a team.
  4. Clients or Customers: References from clients or customers you’ve interacted with can highlight your customer service skills, problem-solving abilities, and the positive impact you’ve had on client relationships.
  5. Project Collaborators: Individuals you’ve worked with on specific projects can speak to your ability to contribute effectively to team efforts, manage project tasks, and achieve objectives.
  6. Mentors or Advisors: References from mentors or advisors can shed light on your career growth, adaptability, and how you’ve benefited from their guidance.
  7. Professional Associations or Networking Contacts: References from individuals you’ve met through industry events, conferences, or professional organizations can demonstrate your engagement within your field.

When providing professional references, ensure that you have obtained permission from each individual and informed them about the type of positions you’re applying for. This will allow your references to tailor their responses to align with the specific job requirements. Professional references can carry significant weight in the hiring process, so it’s important to maintain positive relationships with your references and to choose individuals who can provide valuable and relevant insights into your professional abilities.

Personal or character references

These kinds of job references can shed light on your character, values, and personality. They discuss topics that are not related to the office, such as how you live your life when you’re not working. Additionally, they assist in filling the gap if you’ve never previously held a job in a professional atmosphere.

Character references are beneficial if you’re looking for a job that heavily relies on your abilities, like a volunteer role. Among other objective people in your life, coaches, family friends, mentors, and tutors are some of the best job references in this area. The use of close friends and relatives should be avoided because employers tend to view them as prejudiced.

Personal or character references are individuals who can vouch for your personal qualities, values, and character traits. Unlike professional references that focus on your work-related skills and accomplishments, personal references provide insight into your behavior, integrity, and suitability as a trustworthy and responsible individual.

Personal or character references can include:

  1. Friends: Close friends who have known you for a significant period of time can provide insights into your personality, values, and how you handle personal relationships.
  2. Neighbors: Neighbors who are familiar with your interactions within the community can offer perspectives on your reliability, helpfulness, and involvement.
  3. Community Leaders: Individuals who hold leadership roles in your community, such as religious leaders, volunteer organizers, or local figures, can speak to your contributions, ethics, and character.
  4. Teachers or Coaches: Teachers, coaches, or mentors who have worked with you in educational or extracurricular settings can provide insights into your dedication, growth, and interactions with peers.
  5. Family Friends: Family friends who have observed your behavior in various contexts can provide a well-rounded view of your character and values.

It’s important to note that personal references might be less impactful than professional references in the context of job applications, as they don’t directly address your work-related skills and qualifications. In many cases, employers prefer professional references who can speak to your abilities in a professional setting.

However, personal references can still be useful in situations where you have limited work experience, are transitioning careers, or are applying for positions that require a strong emphasis on personal characters, such as roles involving trust or caregiving. Always ensure that your personal references are individuals who know you well and can provide an honest and positive assessment of your character.

Academic references

References from scholars you have dealt with in your life go within this category. This can apply to professors, counselors, university lecturers, and research associates. They are perfect for applying to entry-level employment, internships, and summer work.

Academic references, also known as educational references or academic recommendations, are individuals who can provide information about your academic achievements, performance, and potential. These references are particularly relevant for students, recent graduates, or individuals who are applying for positions where educational qualifications are important.

Academic references can include:

  1. Professors: Professors who have taught you in classes related to your field of study can provide insights into your academic abilities, work ethic, engagement, and contributions to class discussions.
  2. Research Advisors: If you were involved in research projects during your academic career, your research advisors can speak to your research skills, ability to work independently, and contributions to the academic community.
  3. Thesis Advisors: If you completed a thesis or dissertation, your thesis advisor can provide information about your research topic, the quality of your work, and your dedication to the project.
  4. Mentors or Advisors: Academic mentors or advisors who have guided your educational journey and offered advice can provide a broader perspective on your growth, goals, and potential.
  5. Tutors or Teaching Assistants: If you’ve had interactions with tutors or teaching assistants, they can comment on your engagement in learning, willingness to seek help, and ability to collaborate with peers.

When requesting academic references, it’s important to choose individuals who can speak knowledgeably about your academic abilities and potential. Be sure to provide your references with information about the positions you’re applying for and any specific skills or achievements you’d like them to highlight.

Academic references are particularly useful when you’re applying for graduate programs, research positions, internships, or jobs in fields closely related to your academic background. Keep in mind that as you gain more professional experience, the emphasis on academic references may decrease in favor of professional references.

Guidelines for Choosing Job References

Consider the following guidelines for selecting excellent job references:

Select your references in advance

Start by thinking of a few persons in your work career who can speak highly of your credentials, abilities, and work ethic. Additionally, the people must be trustworthy and able to provide recruiters with a general picture of your career experience.

Select powerful parties.

Your job references will be more persuasive to your prospective employer if they hold a more authoritative role. You can pick former managers, superiors, or coworkers for whom you performed important favors and who may still wish to show their appreciation.

Select job references that are acquainted with you.

Pick people who can speak highly of you and who are knowledgeable about your skills, credentials, and work ethic. This is especially important when considering job references for jobs. Their recommendation may have a significant impact on recruiters, which may mean that it will determine whether you land the position or not. Make sure the job references can recall your encounters with them precisely.

Request job references from them ahead of time.

It’s polite and shows professionalism to request somebody to serve as your reference before giving their names to a recruiter. Obtaining their consent beforehand also enables them to plan their criticism of you. Offer them a month’s notice so they can arrange their schedules and have enough time to provide you with a more comprehensive and positive evaluation. You can get in touch with them by phone, mail, email, or in person.

Choose a person with whom you feel at ease.

Whenever you ask someone to serve as your reference, make sure they feel at ease doing so to improve the likelihood of a positive review. To find out if they are willing to recommend you and provide you with a great reference, ask them if they believe they know you well enough. If they are unable to provide you with a strong reference, respect their choice and don’t take it personally. Continue to the next individual you’ve chosen and see if they can perform it easily.

Tell them where and why you’re applying.

After you’ve found folks who are eager and willing to provide glowing references for you, tell them of the job and firm you’re applying to. Give them a thorough rundown of your future responsibilities at the organization as well as the qualifications you’ll require. If you haven’t spoken to them recently, you can also discuss your present position and remind them of your previous employment.

This will enable them to see how well-suited you are for the job you’ve applied for given your background, abilities, and experience. They will be able to speak highly of you as a result of this.

Prepare for what they’ll say about you and provide talking points.

Even though you do not influence their comments, you might endeavor to find out ahead of time. You can either request written recommendations from them or use internet platforms and tools to pre-screen them. Make sure your job references at the very least verbally commit to writing a favorable recommendation for you.

Job references should correspond to the job you are applying for.

Some job references may just attest to your technical prowess, while others may also highly regard your moral integrity. Choose people who can attest to both your personality and the majority, if not all, of the crucial job qualifications. Additionally, you can direct your references’ talking points to prevent them from becoming stuck and improperly representing you. This entails telling them about your accomplishments and informing them that they have time to gather anecdotal suggestions.

Choose an acceptable reference based on the position.

It’s crucial to have job references who can attest to the fact that you possess the qualifications required for each position you apply for. Have a set of job references you may utilize for the majority of your job applications rather than only one or two to call whenever you need a recommendation. By doing this, you can choose from a larger pool of candidates depending on the particular job needs. Recruiters usually request at least two references, and if your pool is larger, it will be simpler to find ones who can testify to your job-specific abilities.

Job references from within the company are more reliable.

You should request recommendations from acquaintances you have inside the organization you are applying to. As a result, you may be able to land the job because the employers may already be familiar with and confident in you. Give the employer the three job references they request if they know your job history, and if you think you would be a good fit, ask someone you know who works there to provide an informal recommendation.

Regularly update your references

Make sure your reference list is up to date as you grow in your career. This entails adding people who are keener to support you and eliminating people who may seem less enthused about the concept. Also, take out the folks from your past jobs and substitute them with individuals you’ve lately worked with or associated with. By doing this, you can keep a list of references that includes people who are familiar with your most recent work history and skill set, making their recommendations more useful.

Inform them of the progress of your employment search.

As you go through your interviews, let your references know about them so they are aware of the potential time frame for a call from a recruiter. This enables them to brush up on their recollection and review their talking points to make a flattering recommendation. Inform them if you secure the job after passing all of your interviews. Even if you don’t receive the job, don’t forget to thank them later. If you express gratitude to someone, they will feel valued and be more willing to recommend you to others should the need arise.

Giving your employer access to your job references

You should compile a list of people who are willing to serve as your professional references when called upon. If the company has not mandated that you include them on your CV, you might not need to. If they are required during the interview process, the recruiter will request them.

Give the list a descriptive name when emailing it to your company so they can quickly find and access it. They might wish to keep note of it when they call to confirm your reliability.

Template for references

Here is a sample reference list that you might utilize:

References for Karen Todd

Jonathan Edward

Head of Human Resources

Acme Inc.

87 South Hill Street


The head of human resources at Acme Inc., where I previously worked, is Jonathan Edward.

Hannah Smith


William Murphy Enterprises

London Borough Tower, London, Highgate Road

JK2 9GH United Kingdom


My supervisor at the Murphy Enterprise was Haney Smith.


Remember that your references are doing you a favor, so you should behave appropriately regardless of who you ask or what kind of recommendation you request. Respect their choice and go to a different source if they aren’t willing to provide a reference. If they agree to do so, send them an email or perhaps a real card in the mail to express your formal gratitude for their effort and time.

Frequently Asked Questions about job references

  • What questions do you ask while requesting references?

Information about your knowledge, abilities, and experience. Information is relevant to your fitness for the new role about your character, strengths, and flaws. how frequently you missed work. Information on discipline.

  • How do you approach your manager for a reference in a nice manner?

Don’t be afraid to be upfront and truthful.

It’s better to just be straightforward and honest about your goals if you’re unsure whether they’d be willing to serve as a reference for you. Ask them whether they would be willing to serve as a reference for you and mention that you’re thinking about seeking a new position.

  • How do you go about getting a reference from a person you have not spoken to in a while?

Make Your Demand

Make sure they are aware of your job search and you want to use them as references. Describe the type of job you’re doing for them, and if it’s connected to work you performed together, explain how. This can assist them to remember the job you two accomplished together, which is crucial if it was a long time ago.

  • How Do I Choose the Right References?
  • Selecting the right references is crucial to presenting a strong and favorable impression to potential employers. When choosing references, consider the following factors:
    • Relevance: Choose individuals who are familiar with your work in a professional or academic context that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.
    • Credibility: Opt for references who can speak knowledgeably about your skills, accomplishments, and work ethic.
    • Positive Relationship: Select people who have a positive opinion of you and your work. Their endorsement should be genuine and enthusiastic.
    • Recent Interaction: References who have had recent interactions with you are more likely to provide up-to-date and accurate information.
    • Variety: If possible, include a mix of references, such as former supervisors, colleagues, and mentors, to provide a well-rounded view of your abilities.
  • Should I Include References on My Resume or Provide Them Separately?
  • It’s common practice to provide a separate reference sheet rather than including references directly on your resume. Here’s how to handle references:
    • Reference Sheet: Create a separate document titled “References” that includes the names, titles, company names, contact information (phone number and email), and a brief description of your relationship with each reference.
    • Customize for Each Job: Tailor your list of references for each job application. Choose references that align with the specific requirements and responsibilities of the position you’re applying for.
    • Offer References Upon Request: In your resume or cover letter, include a statement such as “References available upon request.” This informs employers that you have references available but also respects your references’ time and privacy.
    • Prepare Your References: Before providing your reference list to potential employers, contact your references to let them know you’re job hunting and may be sharing their information. Provide them with details about the job and the skills you’d like them to emphasize when speaking to employers.

Remember that job references can greatly influence an employer’s perception of you as a candidate, so it’s important to approach the reference process with care and consideration. Always maintain open communication with your references, express gratitude for their assistance, and keep them updated on your job search progress.

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