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Career Advice

The 8 Best People to Choose as Job References

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated 23 Mar 2021
|3 min read

So you have a good feeling you’re going to nail your interview. After the interview, the potential employer will likely request references. To prepare, you sit down to compile your list of references and it happens — your mind goes blank. Many people struggle to create their winning line-up of job references, even after several part-time jobs and years spent developing professional relationships.

Consider these eight people when making your reference list:

1. Recent bosses

Current or previous employers speak best about your work ethic. Leaving your boss off your reference list gives the impression there’s a reason you didn’t want your future employer to contact them.

Explain why you didn’t include your employer if you’re leaving them off your list of references. Maybe you don’t want your boss to know you’re looking for a new job. Regardless, include at least one person from your current job.

2. Co-workers

If you don’t get along with your boss, use a co-worker who is familiar with your work and worked directly with you. A work friend who doesn’t understand your job responsibilities won’t give the professional reference you need.

3. Professors

Professors teaching in a field related to the job you’re applying to make great references, and most are happy to help. However, your professor may not feel comfortable acting as your reference if they haven’t gotten to know you personally. Make the effort to guarantee the professor you respect knows you as more than a face in the classroom.

4. Friends… but only if they’re a professional reference

Most of the time, leave your friends off your list of references.

There are two occasions when using a friend as your reference is acceptable:

  • They’re currently employed at the business to which you’re applying.
  • They were your supervisor.

5. Group members

You probably worked on term-long group projects while finishing your degree. Use your group members as references if the project turned out fantastic.

6. Any place you’ve volunteered

People you volunteer for are likely willing to be your reference. Plus, volunteering impresses hiring managers. It demonstrates your willingness to go beyond what is expected of you. Additionally, volunteering increases your chance of being hired by 27 percent, according to the Corporation of National and Community Service’s June 2013 Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment report.

7. The person you babysat for or whose grass you cut every summer

Think about the odd jobs you had while in secondary school and when you were home from college. A reference you’ve known for years lets employers know the consistency of your work ethic.

8. School teacher or coach you still talk to regularly

Use a school teacher or coach you’ve maintained contact with over the years if you’re short on references. Teachers and coaches often act as mentors throughout high school and into your early adult life.

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