Who, in your Network, Should You Use as A Reference?

asiatic businesswoman walking talking by phone

Happy black businessman talking on the phoneDetermining who should be your professional references is crucial when piecing together a job application.

One inappropriate word from a lousy reference can rapidly topple you off an employer’s list of applicants. On the other hand, a strong recommendation can persuade a company you have the abilities and experience to succeed in the job. Because you can only partially control what your references will say, they carry real weight with hiring managers.

However, you do control who you select as a reference. Below are a few tips on how to make the right decision.

Pick someone you’ve worked with.

While you might know one or two people who can impress a hiring manager, you shouldn’t ask them to be your professional reference if they can’t claim to have ever worked with you.

Ideally, asking a former supervisor to be your reference would be best. This person should be able to review specific examples of what you achieved in your past job and how you added value to the team or business. If you can’t include at least one supervisor as a professional reference, a hiring manager will be suspicious about your relationships with past bosses or your ability to do well in the open position.

Past coworkers are also good professional references, especially if you worked closely alongside them or regularly collaborated with them.

Collaborate with your references.

Collaborating with your references over what they might say if a hiring manager comes calling is perfectly acceptable. Your reference should give specific examples of your work that show off technical aptitude or valuable soft skills.

The best way to approach a reference is to ask if they would be comfortable recommending your abilities positively. If they are willing to do so, you can then get into the specifics of what skills you’re looking to showcase.

Pick references based on the open position.

Ideally, it would help if you had a big enough pool of references to pick out three individuals based on the job you seek. For instance, if the job posting emphasizes the importance of meeting strict deadlines, try to supply at least one reference who can give examples of your deadline-meeting ability.

Regularly update your reference roster.

The longer it has been since you worked with a particular reference, the less weight their recommendation will carry. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly infuse new blood into your list of contacts and eliminate some of the folks who have been on your list for a while.

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