References are a key aspect of the hiring process. 

Careful thought and preparation should be given when selecting people who are going to speak on your behalf. You want someone who will provide the best recommendation and is sincere in believing you are a top candidate.

Here are important tips you should consider: 

  • Most employers will ask for 3 references. Ideally the reference will be a previous supervisor who can speak about your skills and work ethic in a positive manner. References can come from employers, volunteer organizations, and academia.

  • Always contact your potential references to gain their permission before using them. Some companies have a reference policy that states the reference can only go through Human Resources or the supervisor can only confirm job titles and length of employment. If your supervisor is limited by policy, try and use a former client or a trusted co-worker.

  • If you have been fired, there are several approaches you can take. Ask a supervisor or manager in another department, a co-worker, or have them contact Human Resources directly. The other option is to not use that company for a reference at all.

  • It is useful to prepare references by giving them information on the qualifications and responsibilities for the position. If there are specific achievements, skills or experiences you would like references to talk about let them know. It is helpful to provide the reference with your current resume and a copy of the job posting.

  • Finally, always thank them and let them know what the outcome was. It is important to stay in touch as you may need to ask them again in the future.

Click here view a sample on "How to Prepare a Reference Letter"

To learn more about "Academic References" and Letters of Recommendation, click here.