Who should you put in references?

No matter how vital technology becomes, humans will still be the greatest asset to the organization

What do you mean by professional reference?

A professional reference is a recommendation from someone who can vouch for your qualifications and skills for the job based on their insight into your strengths and achievements. They verify on your behalf when the employee contacts them so it’s proof of your service.

Professional references are the people who have worked with you directly or in a position/role/industry for example your boss, colleagues, former employer, supervisor, team leader, etc.

Professional and personal references are two different things that people often mix up. Personal references are also known as character references. They are not required to be the people you have worked with before. They can be your friend, teacher, or relative.

Never mix your personal and professional references.

Importance of Professional Reference-

  • Reality check -
  • Checking professional references to make sure all that is stated is more or less true about you. A good strong reference can go wonders while a bad reference has the power to end the possibility of you getting a seat in the firm.

    In fact, research indicates that nearly 70% of employers do a reference check for every candidate.

  • Helps in showing employers the real you -
  • Employers make sure that they find someone loyal, trustworthy and a candidate who matches their company’s work ethics, cultures, etc, and instead of just relying on your paperwork, the employer must go through some reality or ground check by contacting your references to know the real you.

    Don’t hide your professional references, rather be confident and smart to provide it to your hiring manager.

  • Personal qualities and formal nature -
  • You just can’t sum up every tiny detail of you on a piece of paper. There are many things your ex-worker or superior is capable of knowing about you. Therefore, professional references play their part.

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Who to ask for a professional reference -

  • Former employer -
  • You can get references from the previous employment. The former boss or manager would be the best person to act as a professional reference as they know best about your work ethic. They are well aware of the responsibilities you handled and all your achievements in the previous job.

    They can recommend your work based on the achievement and the relationship you had with your colleagues. If you are currently working with a company, try and avoid your current boss under your recommendations as it may ruin your current position, and in case you are unsuccessful in getting that job, you won’t feel comfortable after that.

  • Colleague -
  • Apart from your former bosses, supervisors, or managers, your colleagues or workmates are the people you have worked closely with. Your colleague has seen you perform your duties, your time management, and your anger management, etc.

    Teamwork is one of the most important aspects in life. It is a soft skill every company looks for, so having someone who can vouch for your teamwork skills is vital.

  • Volunteer projects, Freelance Workers and Internships -
  • A supervisor is not always your boss. A supervisor can be a person from your internship, projects, part-time job etc. Your supervisor can speak about your leadership skills, positive personality traits, etc.

    A supervisor can also offer an insight into your management skills, communication skills and other skills that cannot be listed on a piece of paper.

    This is helpful for a person who does not have much work experience

  • Professor-
  • If you don’t really have work experience or if you just completed your college, your teacher or professor could be of great help. They can provide a really strong reference especially if they taught you a skill or a course.

    They can give details about your personal character and can provide further details about your learning capacity, your activeness, etc.

    Make sure the professor you respect knows more about you rather than just a mere face in the classroom.


  • Other well-known professionals -
  • This should be your last reference but if you know someone who's well known in the industry, it would still be of great help. Make sure they speak about you professionally and not personally.

    You should always try to include the most relevant reference.

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How to provide Professional References -

  • Seek permission -
  • Never take the risk of giving a reference without asking for permission from the concerned person. Make sure you inform the person you mentioned on your professional reference.

    They should be prepared to answer and it is always better as they would expect the call and would be prepared.

    If some time has passed since your last job you must try and reconnect with your reference before giving the name. Keep your reference updated about all the information regarding your GD or interview or anything related to the job so that they can identify when they can expect a call.

  • Prepare the reference and keep them updated
  • After seeking their permission keep your references updated as to when they can expect a call or what all they can be asked. You must prepare them adequately.

    Remind them of the skills they need to highlight or the achievements so that they can be confident enough. Never be afraid to ask them to tell what you have earned. Make sure all the skills and achievements do align with your role in the company you have applied for.

    It’s always helpful to be prepared And have a quick convo with your reference rather than regretting what could have been changed.

    Don’t forget to follow through.

  • Make a list of all the related references -
  • Make a list of all the trusted references that are ready to play the role of professional references. Provide the list in the application reference that would be shared with the employer.

    You must include the person's name, salutation, company, email address, phone number, and all the other necessary details.

    Mention your relationship with the reference in clear words.

  • Be grateful and thank your reference -
  • No matter what the outcome was, you should thank those who agreed to provide a reference on your behalf. Even if you don’t get in, never blame the reference.

    They came forward to help you when you needed it the most. They spoke well about you, your strengths, capabilities, and qualities. Therefore, take some time out and write a sincere note thanking them.

    Make them feel appreciated and foster them for the future.

Written By :
Jahnvi Kausik
Career Expert at CV Owl

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