How to Get Good Job References

While job references seem like an archaic tradition of the past, it’s a step of the process that’s still alive and used today. In fact, some employers expect you to have a list of references that they can immediately review. If you fail to do so, you’ll run the risk of appearing unqualified and unprepared. But don’t panic just yet, since getting job references isn’t that complex. Here are some of the things you need to know.


Why Job References Are Needed

Of course, anybody applying for a job is going to talk about how accomplished, intelligent, and qualified they are. We all want to present ourselves as a perfect fit for the position, but the employers are well-aware that they likely won’t get the whole truth about an applicant straight from their own mouth.

This is where your job references come in. Employers will call on these people to find out more about your professional reputation and work history. They’ll also use these people to gain an outsider perspective about your qualifications, as well as to verify the things you’ve told them.

Who Should You Ask for References

Choose three to five people who are familiar with your line of work. Reach out to your former supervisor with whom you still have a positive relationship, or contact an old colleague that you worked closely with. If you’re still new to the professional world, see if your extracurricular leaders or college professors are willing to be listed.


Just ensure that you select references who are familiar with your recent work. The more current your references are, the better.

How to Ask for Job References

Instead of filling your reference list with generic emails, reach out and create a personal connection with every person you’d want to list. If your references are only local, start by inviting your references for a cup of coffee to chat. This won’t just give you an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the person, but to also catch up on what’s been happening with you professionally.

Once you’re done talking about your life and career plans, ask the question. Explain that you value the person’s opinion, and that you’d love to have him or her as a reference in your job hunt. Chances are, he or she won’t turn down your request.

Getting good job references is crucial for getting the job that you want. So ensure that you keep these information in mind as you create a solid list of contacts, and as you take a step closer to landing your dream job.


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