How to Select the Right Person as a Reference

Ah, the reference. We know it all too well. It’s on your job application and even mentioned in your resume. But technically, who should you use?

According to a piece on Recruiter, it “can be a tricky affair choosing the elite few who will give your job recommendation and you must be shrewd and calculating in order to select the perfect candidates.”

Even though you may still be in touch with former colleagues, the piece points out the best references may not come from people you frequently maintain contact with but rather, people who articulate clearly regarding your skills. Choose them wisely.

First, if there’s a connection to your reference and the hiring manager, by all means go for it. This personal connection could lead to greater confidence in the reference’s input. Joshua Bjerke writes, “Getting vouched for by someone who knows how to most effectively speak to the hiring manager may give you the needed edge over your competition. If no personal connection is available, look for people that have experience with the company that you want to work for.”

Plus, select a reference the future boss can respect. This means of course, that you respect him or her, too! Select people as references who are reliable, smart, and knowledgeable.

If there’s any way to get your current boss in the loop, Bjerke recommends going for it. For instance, maybe your group will be downsized and therefore, it’s okay your boss knows you’re looking to leave. In this instance, your boss can say something like, “We wish circumstances were different but here’s why she’s so valuable.”

Remember that trust is the key and confidentiality is important. Even if you select a peer, you’ll have to entrust them with vouching for you with your prospective employer.

If past bosses aren’t on the radar and you’re completely out of options or out of the job market for a while, Bjerke says to “find a respected and active member of your community.” Although the connection is probably more personal than professional, ensure they have a polished persona when it comes to giving the thumbs up to your hiring manager.