Selecting good references is one of the most imperative recruiting tips for applicants. It is the applicant’s job to cultivate relationships worthy of a good reference. To an employer, the reference will show what your personality and work ethic are really like (not just when you are on your best behavior for the interview). To an applicant, a reference can be a great professional self-evaluation, and is an enormously positive way to emphasize your strengths and develop a strategy to minimize your weaknesses. Here is a list of the do’s and don’ts regarding good job references:

  • Do pick references who are well spoken, and practice interview questions with them if you want to be thorough.
  • Do discuss the job opportunity with your references, so that they know what context in which to convey your strengths and minimize weaknesses.
  • Do remember to ask permission to use someone as a reference, and give him/her warning of when a potential employer may call.
  • Don’t pick a family member, girlfriend/boyfriend, or anyone who has not witnessed your work performance.
  • Do pick a reference who you have a positive professional relationship with and who you are absolutely sure will speak highly of you.
  • Don’t pick an employer/coworker with whom the relationship ended badly.
  • Do select supervisory references as well as peer references.  If you are applying for a management position it is also recommended to supply references of past employees.
  • Do keep your references as current as possible.
  • Do provide references quickly upon request as any delay will have a negative impact.

Optimally, a reference will be someone who has an impressive position or reputation themselves. While this is not a requirement, it is a great way to expand and legitimize your professional network. Take advantage of your professional references! They are great resources for advice as well as potential mentorships. Having good references is among one of the strongest recruiting tips for both employers and applicants because of the opportunities for insight that they offer.

Written by Leah Brooks

Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts


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