Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

5 Tips on Getting a Great Job Reference

You’ve gotten your resume past hundreds of others, and were able to move to the next round. Nailing every question and giving a great first impression, your interview is a roaring success. However, to seal the deal your interviewer asks for several references in order to confirm their final decision. It can be nerve-wrecking to decide who will give you the best possible recommendation, and who will give a less-than-stellar one. Job references can be a tipping factor in the final hiring decision, so it’s important that you don’t disregard this important process. The following are several tips on how to secure great job references:

1. Find the Right People
Before calling every single employer you know, start by making a list of valid candidates who can give you a good reference. Generally, you’ll want to look for individuals who can speak to your performance, professionalism and other positive qualities. Another tip is to look for managers you’ve known for an extended period of time, as this can give greater credence to their reference. Try to get as varied a list as possible, with individuals at different management levels, personalities and industries. After enough time, you’ll have several individuals who are highly likely to give a glowing recommendation.

2. Get in Touch
Don’t simply expect the individual to serve as a reference at the drop of a hat. Instead, take the time to formally ask whether they’d be willing to be your reference. While the preferred methods of communication vary, you’ll want to create a thoughtful message that will help you connect with the individual. If you fail to inform them that they’ll be getting a call, then your recommendation may be less than impressive.

3. Personalize Your Message
If the hiring manager is serious about references, chances are he or she will be contacting them soon. Therefore, you’ll need to get your references up to speed about the nature of your request. Give them a rundown of the position you’re applying for to help them better understand what they should say. In addition, if you’re close with the individual then adding a number of qualities you’d like them to highlight can help your likelihood of getting the job.

4. Follow Up
Whether you’ve gotten the job or not, it’s vital that you follow up with your references. Send a response and keep them updated on your progress in order to increase the chances that they’ll happily be a reference in the future. Remember, the individual serving as a reference is doing you a favor; make sure you thank them for giving a recommendation.

5. What If You Don’t Have Any?
If you don’t have anyone that can give you a good reference, then start going through any individual that can vouch for your professionalism and reliability. This can range from former coworkers, colleagues, mentors, alumni and so on. In the meantime, start networking as much as you can in order to expand your connections and maintain a list of valuable references. The more individuals you’re able to connect with, the greater the pool of contacts you can draw upon for future job opportunities.


About the Writer:

Abby Evans is a writer for, and loves to learn all she can about the job hunt. She is an avid blogger that writes on everything, from social media tips to searching for Toronto Jobs. Connect with Abby and on Twitter!


IMAGE: Courtesy of the SJSU Career Center Blog

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