With The Great Resignation afloat, we can safely assume that the need for professional references will also increase as new positions are acquired. Most companies require a total of 3 references, though some may require more or less, position depending. We recommend you have a list of references, preferably 5 people or more that you can provide to an employer on the spot. That being said, when in a job search it is important to get ahead of the game and brainstorm reliable references if you have not don’t so already. We have selected a few of our favorite tips when choosing your references that will set you up for success!


The goal when obtaining references, aside from confirming dates of employment, is to get a clear understanding of your work ethic, your character, and your professionalism. The best reference you can provide is a manager or direct supervisor as they will provide an unbiased, trusted reference. If you are unable to provide a manager or supervisor, try providing a coworker who you worked alongside that could speak on your behalf. If you are a student, a college professor is also an excellent choice as they can speak on your performance in their class pertaining to attendance, participation, and ability to work with others. We strongly recommend building a relationship with your professors so you can feel comfortable asking them for a reference as you approach graduation. If you were a college athlete, even coaches could provide a reliable reference. If you find yourself without any of the above options, talk to the person conducting the reference checks as a personal reference may suffice.


Your list of references should include:

  • Name of reference – First and last name
  • Title of reference – What was their title while you worked for them
  • Company – At what company did you work for them
  • Relation to reference – Manager, supervisor, coworker, professor, coach, or personal reference
  • (If professor or coach) – Provide university, class taken, or sport played
  • Dates worked for/with this individual – Start and end date, or date of class taken
  • Phone number – Direct phone number
  • Email – That they check frequently


When you are asked to provide a reference list, the most important thing is to first notify your references. Let them know what type of reference they are expected to give whether it’s a typed email/letter, or verbally over the phone. If it is over the phone, give them the name of the person who will be calling and an idea of the day/time so they can be sure to be present at the appropriate time. If you feel comfortable, give them an idea of what your upcoming role looks like so they can gear their reference accordingly. They may want to highlight customer service skills, people skills, or technical skills depending on your new role.


Be sure to update your references periodically. As time passes and you obtain new roles you may find yourself in contact with new potential references who can speak on your present performance. Though only 3 references are typically required it is wise to have a couple on standby. Sometimes instances occur where the reference is no longer available at the time allotted in which case you will be required to provide a backup. Some individuals may seem less enthusiastic than others at which time it may be fit to take them off your list.

Obtaining references does not have to be a daunting task if you maintain a list throughout your work-life. For more information, please reach out to us at (518) 275-4816 as we are happy to help!