“We had two top candidates for a senior job. One whose references were glowing and one whose took forever to respond and then barely remembered the person.”    HR Executive.

“I can always find ways to get references to tell me a lot about the person I am checking on.”   top Corporate Recruiter

“If all his references hide behind ‘company policy’, we keep asking for more but I also start to think the candidate has issues.”   Program Manager

If you want references that help you get your next job, you need to be proactive.


3. The best references are past bosses, project managers, clients, or others who really know your work quality and value.

  • Think about the people you liked working with, the ones you admired, those you learned from the most.
  • Connect or re-connect with at least 8-10 of these and explain why you want them to be references.

2. Ask individuals to be references, then prepare them.

  • A phone call or email asking someone to be a reference, with the reason you chose them, ensures your references are willing to do so.
  • Once each says yes, send them a note about what you are looking for now and a copy of your current resume.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn if you have not done so already.
  • Ask each for their preferred contact method and information, so you give the recruiter or hiring manager the best info.

1. Use your references effectively.

  • Select references who are most appropriate based on the specific job and organization.
  • Protect all your references by only providing their contact info once you have been interviewed and are asked for references.
  • Send each a note or call to tell them who will call and what the job is.
  • Explain anything you really want them to talk about, based on your interviews.
  • Remember to say thank you to each reference each time you use the person!

These few tips will help you have the type of reference all hiring managers and recruiters want to talk to. People who know your work, who can talk about it effectively, and who are positive about you. We love those!