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Jobs > Career Tips > 4 Steps To Picking A Good Job Reference

4 Steps To Picking A Good Job Reference

May 7, 2013

It’s often the little details that can help a hiring manager choose between two very qualified candidates. Whether it’s an extra year of experience or a personality that seems to fit with the organizational culture better, employers will need to split hairs to make their final decision. There’s not a whole lot you control at this point, but there is one thing you can do: Make sure you have a job reference who will serve you well.

One factor that will help an employer make their final decision is the words of someone who is familiar with the applicant. On the surface, it’s doesn’t seem very hard to select who you want to vouch for your work: You just select your co-workers, supervisors, and anyone else who has a good opinion of you, right? That’s half of the equation, but those factors alone won’t guarantee a good reference.

  • You should start by thinking carefully about who you want to select. As a general rule, you should make sure your references should: Want to see you succeed; and, can articulate your strengths and areas of expertise; can think on their feet when asked difficult questions.
  • Once you have a couple of people in mind, contact them to make sure that it is alright to use them as a reference. This is the polite thing to do and it will ensure that they are not caught off guard should the employer contact them.
  • Brief your references on other things they need to know about you. This should include other information from your professional history that will give them an even greater understanding of your strengths and skills.
  • Create a one-page document to submit to employers that has a list of each of your references along with their contact information. Double-check with each of your contacts to make sure that the information you have is up-to-date.


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