When it comes time in the job-search process to provide references, it is absolutely crucial to choose wisely. Many top choice candidates have lost out on offers because of bad or ineffective references. So, who should make the list? Check out these tips for choosing the best job references:
Opt for Direct Supervisors
Hiring managers want to hear from references who have the most direct experience of your work performance. While colleagues at your same level will have somewhat of a sense of that, their experience is how you are as an equal. It is your direct supervisors who know the ins and outs of your strengths and weaknesses. Whenever possible, opt for your immediate managers to use as references.
Avoid Potentially Indifferent or Negative References
When you are selecting references, think carefully about what type of feedback they are likely to share. If you had a difficult situation (such as being fired or being treated poorly) or simply did not interact much with a manager, try to avoid using them as references. You want to pick references who you feel confident in what they will have to say about you.
Ensure the Reference is Authoritative
The higher the level of authority of a reference, the more seriously their insight will be taken by hiring managers. Avoid references who either do not have experience with you in a professional setting, or whose opinion could be biased or not credible. This includes any family members or friends, as well as any professional contacts who have negative reputations, such as a manager who was fired for ethical reasons.
Expand Your Horizon to Other Professional Contexts
Professional experience does not have to be limited to a typical workplace environment. Do not be afraid to expand your horizon and select references from other professional contexts. This could include volunteer work, an educational setting or a professional organization in which you participate. Just because you were not a paid employee does not mean you were not showcasing professional skills hiring managers would want to learn more about.
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