Choosing Quality References

You had a successful interview and you have a job offer pending, but in order to complete the process your new employer wants to check your references. If you have questions about how to choose the right references to lock in that offer, look no further! We’ve answered some basic questions to help you provide the best references possible.

  1. Who makes a great reference?
    • An ideal reference would be a former supervisor – not a family member or coworker.
    • Even if you worked for a family member, employers do not consider them to be good references. A family member will most likely be biased and provide a good reference for you no matter what.
    • Coworkers also make bad references, because as far as the employer knows, any coworker could be your best friend. In that case, they will also be biased and inclined to provide a good reference for you.
    • A former supervisor is most likely to be honest in their answers when providing a reference, and they are most knowledgeable of your work ethic and quality of work. They also know how you follow instructions and take initiative better than anyone else.
    • If you can’t use a direct supervisor as a reference, the next best person would be a coworker who was in a superior position to you.
  2. What information do I need to provide for my reference contacts?
    • After choosing your references, it’s important to make sure you have their full contact information.
    • Make sure to provide your references’ first and last name, phone number, email address and business address. Also, include their professional title and the name of their company. If a reference you worked with in the past is no longer with the same company, it helps to include both their current and former titles and companies.
  3. Do I need to call my references before using them?
    • Be sure to get approval from your references before giving them to your potential new employer. That way, you are sure their contact information is correct and they know to expect a phone call from your new company.
    • Also, it’s good to reconnect with a former supervisor before they receive a call asking for a reference. If it’s been a while since you were last in touch, they will have a fresh, positive memory of you.
    • Some corporations do not allow their employees to give references and will only allow employment verifications through Human Resources. If you call a former boss ahead of time, you will know whether or not they are even allowed to provide a reference.

Employers strongly rely on references to verify a potential employee’s background and work ethic, so it’s important that you provide them with references that will impress them. Follow the advice we’ve provided and you’ll be sure to land your dream job!

WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.