When you’re applying for jobs, a common request among employers is for you to provide a list of professional references. After your interview, your references could be a key component on whether you receive a job offer from a company. Here is what you need to know about Professional References.
What’s a Professional Reference?
A professional reference is someone who will confirm your professional work ethic and workplace experience. This is someone you have known in a professional context, like a former supervisor or colleague at a place you worked or volunteered.
References should be given to employers on request, which means you should usually wait for the employer to ask for your references before giving them a reference list.
The objective of a reference is to give your potential employer a positive and honest overview of your character and your work ethic. An employer will contact your references to get a better understanding of who you are as a person and a worker, to make sure you are the right fit for the position they’re looking to fill.
Who is a Suitable Professional Reference?
Employers usually ask for three references. If employers want more or fewer references, they usually say so.
Here are five people you can include on your list of professional references:
- Former Employer. A previous employer can provide the best insight into your work ethic. They know what your responsibilities were at your job and how you handled them.
- Colleague. Someone you worked alongside at a previous job, even if they weren’t your supervisor, can be an excellent reference. They will be able to speak about things you worked on together and what you achieved as a team.
- Teacher. A teacher or professor can provide a really strong reference, especially if they taught a course pertinent to your major. They will be able to talk about the skills you picked up during their course, as well as your personal character.
- Advisor. An academic advisor, depending on the amount of time you spent with them, is another great option for a reference. If your advisor is someone who got to know you really well during your college or university career, they can talk about how you’ve grown into the professional you are today.
- Supervisor. Someone who supervised you, but wasn’t necessarily your boss, could be another excellent reference to include. This could be a supervisor from a volunteer project, an internship, or some other extracurricular activity.
Professional Reference Lists & Etiquette
The employer will be contacting your references, so you’ll need to provide the employer with a reference list. This usually includes their full name, address, and phone number. This can be their personal information or business information, whatever the reference is comfortable with providing.
Make sure you ask for permission before using people as references. This is a courtesy towards your references and also a way to ensure that they are prepared to give you an excellent review. Contact each person you plan to list in advance, ideally before the interview. Talk to each prospective reference about your accomplishments while working with them, and ask them to give potential employers specific examples or stories of your work ethics.