The Best People to Choose as Job References

Nicholas Long
Posted by in Career Advice

Professional references allow hiring managers and employers to learn more about you and your personality. A good reference can demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed in your potential new role. While references are incredibly important, you need to be able to choose the right ones. It’s better to ask those who have some knowledge of your skills and capabilities, for example previous bosses and classmates from school. This list of example references should help you determine exactly who to choose.

1. Recent bosses

Previous employers will be the most capable to speak about your abilities and reference your skills. You should include your previous boss as a reference because if you leave them off, it might give the impression there’s an underlying reason you don’t want them to be contacted. Keep in mind that if your boss is asked “Would you hire ____ again?” They should be able to say, “Yes!” 

2. Professors

Professors will be happy to help you, and as their student, they will also be able to vouch for your skills and abilities. Keep in mind the professor may not feel comfortable serving as a reference for you however if they do not know you personally. Otherwise, they are a great option. 

3. Coworkers

If you don't get along with your boss or don’t want your boss to know you’re leaving the job, ask your coworker instead. Ask a coworker with whom you have worked closely and you are familiar with. A coworker who isn’t familiar with you won’t be able to give you the professional reference you need. 

4. Any place where you have volunteered

Volunteer work always looks great on a resume, especially if it’s connected to the line of work you want to do. You can ask the coordinator or group leader to be your reference. 

5. High school teacher

If you're a recent graduate and were close to one of your high school teachers, they could be a good person to ask for a reference. Being one of their students, you will have demonstrated your skills and abilities in their classes.

6. A former client

A client with whom you had success with will be interested in serving as a reference for you, especially if they are related to the line of work you do. Plus, they have an outsider’s prospective which is different from other types of relationships you’d likely feature as a reference. 

While there are a lot of different options for people to ask for references, some are better than others. Everyone can benefit from having a professional reference list readily available. If you aren’t sure who to ask, consult this list.


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