A reference is a person that will vouch for you and speak to your character. A reference could be a former teacher, employer, or even a former co­worker. You should choose people that know you well.

preparing references

Reference checking is part of the hiring process. Hiring managers want to find out more about the person before they hire them. They also want to make sure that what candidates put on the application or tell them during the interview is true. One way to do this is by talking to references and asking them about the person they are considering for the job.

Follow these three steps before you start filling out applications:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Deciding Who to Use
  3. Asking for Permission

list of references

Getting Started

You want to be sure your references will be positive and helpful. Get started early so you can identify everyone you will use as a reference. Many applications ask for at least three references. Make sure you have all of the information you need about your references. Application forms usually ask for the name of the reference. Make sure you know how to spell the full name correctly.

 Many applications will also ask about your relationship with this person, for example: “former supervisor,” “fellow employee,” “former teacher,” etc.   You will also need to provide the contact information for each reference. Make sure you have a full address, phone number and email for each person. Your references may or may not want employers to contact them at home or at work, so make sure you ask for their preferred contact information.

girl working

Deciding Who to Use

When you are trying to decide who to use as a reference, think about people who know you and your work experience.  The application may ask for business references and character or personal references. Business references know about your work skills and working habits. This includes your previous bosses, or others with whom you worked closely. Character or personal references know about your character, your attitude and your values.  Employers do not consider your relatives to be good references, so don’t use them.


Asking for Permission

Employers do contact references, so be sure you have asked permission to use them. Decide if you want to call them or write to them to ask for their permission. Calling references is a quick way to get a response. You will know right away if you have the correct contact information, and most importantly, whether or not they will be a reference for you. Phone calls also allow you to talk with people and have a conversation about the kinds of jobs you are seeking. They can easily ask questions of you and you can ask questions of them.

Depending upon how long it has been since you talked with the people on your reference list, you may want to remind them of your strengths, skills and abilities. Thank your references when you are calling to ask permission.  You should also follow up with each person afterwards to thank them. Also, be sure to let them know when you get a new job.

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