If a company asks you for references, this should serve as an indicator that you are nearing the end of the application process. This event can also mean your chances of landing the job are very high, depending on your references. Hence, you want to receive the best references possible and seal the deal on your employment. 

Who Do Employers Want to see as references?

Typically, employers want to hear from people who can vouch for you as a professional. This means providing references that you have worked for or with, or maybe even mentors who have helped you climb the professional ladder. While you should not let this stress you out, you should be prepared with a few people to use, so you don’t seem frazzled when a potential employer asks for this.

  1. Managers and Supervisors: These are the people who you want to use first and foremost, if possible. Some people may not want to use their current manager if they are worried about jeopardizing the job they already have. Employers will understand so if this is the case for you, just be sure to include a previous manager or supervisor as a reference. Failure to do so may signal red flags to employers. 
  2. Current Colleagues/Clients: While colleagues and clients you may have don’t hold positions above you, they are able to vouch for the work you’ve done with them or for them. References from colleagues can serve as a good indicator to potential employers that you can work well with others. Clients you may have done work for can also attest to your qualifications or a job well done.
  3. Professors: If you are fresh out of school, professors can act as good references too. These types of references may give more insight about your skills than your experience, but will still provide employers with information they need to make a decision. If a past professor can give you a good review as a student and attest to your hard work, employers will believe you can transfer this over to the workplace. 
  4. Internal References: If you have some kind of inside connection to the company, like a friend who recommended the job to you, you can use them as a reference too! Even if you don’t have experience working directly with them, the potential employer will keep in mind that one of their own is vouching for you. An inside reference matched with a past supervisor and colleague make a great trio!

Know What Your References Will Say About You:

It is imperative to always use references who have agreed to give you a positive referral. Always make sure that you are clear on what your reference will say not only to avoid negative referrals but also so you can answer any questions the employer may have for you. A good way to achieve this is to ask the reference to send you a written copy before forwarding it to the company. 

Use References That Focus On Your Achievements and The Job Requirements.

The best references will be able to speak on any major milestones you’ve had. References that can highlight your professional achievements or any skills you have that will make you a desirable candidate will stand out to employers and help you land the job.  Similarly, if you have a past manager for a similar position you held or someone who knows you have the qualifications for the job you are pursuing, they would be a great choice of reference. 

Have serval references!

Most employers will specify a certain number of references. If it is more than one, make sure to use difference references that can vouch for you in different ways! Although employers will typically ask for no more than3 three references, it is good to have a pool to select from so that you can use the ones best suited for a particular job. Remember, good connections can lead to good references. Always build strong relationships with those who may be able to help you one day.