Getting a Good Reference

Many employers want references – 3 seems to be the right number to have at the ready. Past employers, coaches, volunteer managers and others could all be candidates. Here are other tips to pick the right ones. 

Choose references you're sure can do a good job answering questions from an employer. Here's a checklist:

  • Wants to see you succeed as much as you do.
  • Can clearly articulate your strengths, areas of expertise and development.
  • Can think on her feet if asked a tough question.
  • You would feel good about being a reference for. 
    Ask before you list anyone!
    • It makes you look professional and courteous.
    • It gives them time to prepare and not be caught off-guard by a phone call they didn’t expect.
    • Their willingness or hesitancy can help you judge whether or not they would make a good reference. 
      Share your goals
      Tell your references where you are applying and why. Give them your resume' and current contact info.

      Prepare a contact sheet
      Create a one-page list that includes contacts and be sure your references can be reached and know the best way to contact them (phone, email, days/nights, etc.)
      • Person’s name
      • Job title
      • Relationship to you (such as co-worker or direct supervisor)
      • Company name
      • Address
      • Contact info (phone number, email address)
      Close the Loop
      Check back with your references from time-to-time to make sure that contact information has not changed. And of course, THANK your references each time they are contacted. They should also be the first to know when you land that new job.

      These tips and suggestions were excerpted from a blog by Beth Braccio Hering of Career Builder found here.


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      Career Quest has been such a great experience for me. From staff to students, I have gained some awesome people in my life. I am forever grateful.