Job References: Everything you need to know

Job References: Everything you need to know
Last Updated: November 22, 2023

Professional references are individuals who can attest to your employment credentials based on their knowledge of your work ethic, abilities, strengths, and accomplishments. A professional reference is usually a former employer, a client, a colleague, an instructor, or a supervisor.

References may supply letters as verification of service, length of work, accomplishments, and qualifications. When selecting the best professional references to attest to your qualifications, choose professional references who have previously watched you in a productive position, such as at work, in lecture rooms, or a volunteer setting.

Unlike personal and character references, professional recommendations speak to a persons professional characteristics, talents, and capacities. The names of your references, as well as their contact information, should be given. Some employers may demand references to produce a tangible letter of recommendation describing the individuals work-related abilities.

What types of references are important?

There are four different types of references available. The highest weight is given to references from previous employment.

  • Employment references - past employers, coworkers, subordinates, or clientele are all possible candidates. They can speak about your specific work experience. You can also include the names of persons for whom you provide volunteer work, babysitting, lawn mowing, and other odd jobs.
  • Professional references - are folks who have a professional relationship with you. Contacts from business and sales, clubs, and professional or community organizations may be among them.
  • Academic references - are educators and career advisers. They can inquire about your academic activity. Current students or recent grads will benefit the most from these.


Choosing who to ask for a professional reference


Professional references can be an important factor in determining whether or not you are hired. A positive reference can persuade a prospective employer that you are the right person for the position, whilst a poor reference can exclude you from the list of new hires. Here are some things to think about while selecting the greatest work references:

1. Ask a manager or former boss

The greatest individual to act as a reference for a new job would be your immediate former supervisor or manager. They may be able to endorse your work based on your accomplishments and relationships with other team members. However, including managers or bosses with whom you were on good terms and who are willing to be called at any time when needed is suggested. Some candidates may be afraid to use their present supervisors as references because doing so could jeopardize their current employment if they do not get the new job. In that situation, consider returning to a previous employer.

2. Ask your colleagues to vouch for you

Aside from former supervisors, you can also ask your coworkers and coworkers from the same departments or roles to vouch for your qualifications for the job. Your coworkers must have observed you performing everyday tasks at work to determine the talents and abilities you possess and those required in the new position you are looking for.

3. Know what your references will say about your work qualities

When seeking professional references to vouch for you, the last thing you want is to obtain a negative reference and miss out on the job opportunity. Before giving the prospective employer the names and contact information, ask the referee to draft a brief recommendation letter in advance. Pre-screening the references offers you an idea of what the references are likely to say if the prospective employer contacts them.

How to provide professional references to employers?

Here are some things you can do if a prospective employer asks you to produce a list of professional references to vouch for your qualifications:

1. Ask permission

Before giving out the contact information of someone you intend to use as a professional reference, make sure you alert them and get their consent. It allows people to anticipate being approached in the future and plan what to say if they are.

2. Create a list of references

In the application documents, include a list of references that will be shared with the prospective employer. Include the persons name, job title, company, mailing address, email address, and phone number for each reference. Include details about your relationship with the reference as well.

3. Keep the references updated

Inform the references on the progress of the recruitment process so that they know when they will be contacted. It keeps them prepared to provide a detailed recommendation about your work qualities, style, and work ethic.

What are the qualities of a good professional reference?

When picking who to include in your list of references, make sure they have the following characteristics:

1. They know your strengths and capabilities

Choose a reference who has worked in a similar position to the one you are applying for, as they will be able to speak about the unique qualities and abilities that the new company is searching for. When applying for a marketing position, for example, the former marketing manager is in a better position to attest to the marketing activities you've done and the skills you've acquired.

2. They speak well about you

Some job searchers make the error of expecting that every former boss will speak well of them. Before putting a previous supervisor as a professional reference, find out what they think of you to see if they are the ideal persons to list as references.

3. Worked with you recently

In comparison to individuals, you worked with a long time ago, your most recent supervisors, managers, and colleagues are more likely to recall your achievements at work. Former coworkers with whom you haven't communicated in a long time may have forgotten about your accomplishments and abilities. If you've recently networked with new coworkers, its best not to mention them as references.

Nyasha D Ziwewe is a Software Developer at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950 or email: or visit our website at

Nyasha Ziwewe
This article was written by Nyasha a Guest at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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