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Getting The Best Job References

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Getting a job is not only about having the right qualifications but also having the right references. Good references can help you stand out from other candidates and increase your chances of getting hired. Finding the best job references is not always easy, but with the right approach, you can get the references that will help you get the job you want.

Why Are Job References Important?

Employers rely on job references to get a better understanding of a candidate’s skills, work ethic, and character. A good reference can provide insight into a candidate’s work history and help employers determine if the candidate is a good fit for the job and the company culture. A bad reference, on the other hand, can be a red flag for employers and may cost a candidate the job.

How to Choose the Right References

1. Choose People Who Know You Well

When choosing job references, it’s important to choose people who know you well and can speak to your skills and work ethic. This can include former bosses, co-workers, or even clients who can vouch for your work.

2. Ask for Permission

Before listing someone as a reference, it’s important to ask for their permission. This not only shows respect for their time but also ensures that they are willing to provide a positive reference.

3. Provide Context

When asking someone to be a reference, be sure to provide context about the job you are applying for and why you think they would be a good reference. This can help them tailor their reference to the specific job and highlight your relevant skills and experience.

4. Diversity Matters

Try to choose references from different aspects of your professional life. This diversity will give employers a better overall picture of your skills and work ethic.

How to Prepare Your References

1. Keep Them Informed

Once you have chosen your references, be sure to keep them informed about the job you are applying for and the hiring process. This will help them prepare a better reference and be more responsive to potential employer inquiries.

2. Provide Your Resume and Cover Letter

Provide your references with a copy of your resume and cover letter. This will help them better understand your background and qualifications and make it easier for them to speak to your skills and experience.

3. Preemptive Strike

If you are concerned about a negative reference, it may be helpful to address the issue preemptively. Talk to your reference and explain any potential negative aspects of your work history. This will give them the opportunity to prepare a more balanced reference.

4. Thank Them

After the job search is over, be sure to thank your references for their time and effort. This can help maintain a positive relationship with them and make them more likely to provide a reference in the future.


Getting the best job references is not always easy, but with the right approach, you can find the references that will help you get the job you want. Choose people who know you well, provide them with context, keep them informed and thank them afterwards.


What if I don’t have any work experience?

If you don’t have any work experience, you can still use references from other areas of your life, such as academic or volunteer experience.

Can I use personal references?

Personal references, such as friends or family members, are generally not recommended. Employers want references who can speak to your professional skills and work ethic.

What if my reference doesn’t respond?

If your reference doesn’t respond, try reaching out to them again. If they still don’t respond, it may be time to find a new reference.

Can I use someone who I haven’t worked with in a long time?

While it’s generally best to use references from your most recent jobs, you can use someone you haven’t worked with in a long time if they can still provide a relevant and positive reference.

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