Professional References: Why Are They Important And How to Choose Them?

professional references

Congratulations! You have cleared the last and final round of the rigorous interview process. You have started dreaming about joining your new company, and your prospective employer asks for references.

Have you racked your brain about whom you are going to ask? Do you know who will be willing to vouch for you? Will they discuss your relevant skills and qualities and explain why you are a good fit for this new position?

So many questions!

Let’s start answering them one by one.

What Is A Reference On Job Application?

Have you seen the words ‘professional references’ written on the job application or employee form? Calm down; there is no need to panic.

A professional reference on a job application is a person who can vouch for your skills and qualifications for a new position. This is typically your former client, teacher, colleague, supervisor, or employer.

So, when you sit down to add a reference to your resume, job application, or employment form, be sure to pick someone who knows about your work ethic, strengths, working style, and achievements. 

Another special consideration when choosing professional references is who can cover most of your skills. For example, a supervisor knows more about your professional growth, but a former team member is the best person to talk to when inquiring about your teamwork abilities. 

If your professional references are strong from different viewpoints, your potential boss will soon find out what a wonderful addition you will be to their company!

Why References Are Important When Applying For A Job

You are in the best position as a professional to display your unique strengths and skills. All your achievements are also highlighted by your resume and LinkedIn profile

But, your potential employer is not satisfied and needs more. This is where professional references come in. 

They speak to your hard work and give an unbiased account of their time with you. Through this process, your new boss will be able to determine whether you are a good candidate for the position and organization you have been chosen for. 

Below are several other reasons why professional references are important for you and your employer.

  1. Allow you to adhere to industry regulations, laws, or workplace policies.
  2. Confirm that you have the experiences, qualifications, and skills required for the position you have been or are going to be hired for.
  3. Gain insight into your work ethic and integrity.
  4. Determine if you will be able to fit into the culture of the organization.
  5. Safeguard the reputation of the organization. 

Who Should You Use As A Reference?

Are you penning down a list of people who could be your professional references? Great! This is the time to ask yourself these questions.

  1. Did I have a good work relationship with said person?
  2. When did we last work together?
  3. Are they aware of my strengths?
  4. Will they vouch for me?

Then, it is time to make the decision on who you will be putting down as your reference. Here are several ideas on whom you could ask.

1. Coworker or Colleague

They can speak to your abilities and skills since they have worked with you firsthand.

2. Internal Reference

Knowing someone in an organization can help your chances of being employed. It is possible that the hiring manager is aware of this person and trusts when they give good feedback about you. 

3. Supervisor

Your previous supervisor will be able to speak to your professionalism and work ethic since they have overseen your projects. They can also give examples of the various projects you worked on and the exceptional performance you gave. 

How To Choose The Best Professional References

Before you can add someone’s name to your list of professional references, take some time out to prepare and deliver recommendations that are bound to help your case.

The best references will give you glowing reviews and speak anecdotally about your work ethic, skills, and achievements.

But how do you narrow down the search? Maybe the following steps can help you.

1. Make The Choice Depending On The Role

Not all of your references will be able to highlight your best achievements for a particular role. This is why you need to make a group of references and check what they can do best.

For example, there may be a reference who can talk you up when it comes to your problem-solving skills, while another can shine a light on your tech-savviness. 

It is on you to make sure that whomever you choose to be your list of final references is able to cover a chunk of your core job description, at least.

2. Use Any Internal References

Remember, internal referrals are valued by many employers. If someone you know already works at the company you have applied to, ask them if they would be okay with vouching for you. 

Tips To Ask People For A Reference

Do you have someone in mind whom you want to put down as a reference? Then, why don’t you ask them? If you do not know how to, follow the tips below.

1. Ask For Permission

It is important to remember not to give out someone’s information without asking them first. It is common courtesy and ensures that they will not be caught off guard when someone calls them up to ask about you.

2. Prepare Them

Once you have permission from a professional to put them down as your reference, have a quick chat with them. Let them know which position you are applying for, with the most recent copy of your resume.

List down a few of your achievements and accomplishments as reminders so that they are better prepared to answer your potential employer’s call.

3. Have A Follow-Up Call

Keep your references in the loop with updates about your job. If you start to apply to other organizations and get calls for interviews, it is likely that someone may call them to check up on you. So, it is important for them to be prepared for possible calls. 

Take The Next Step In Your Career

Hopefully, the steps above have given you clarity on how to go about asking for professional references, how to choose them, and why they are important. They can impress your hiring manager more so than you already have and seal the deal on this job that you want so much.

Remember to think good thoughts!


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