Work references can either make or break your chances of getting a job. A good reference will increase your chances of landing a job and a bad reference will lower your chances. Either way, you’ll be asked to provide a reference or two at some point in your life. So you better have some good people to vouch for you!
Why are references important?
Employers will usually ask for references during or after the interview. This is to give them an idea of how you conduct yourself in a professional environment, how well you work in a team or with other colleagues and whether or not you are reliable – basically, if it’s worth it for them to invest their time and money into hiring you.
Who to use as references
You have to be very careful when choosing your references since they can either make or break your chances at landing a job. The best people to use are:
Former managers or leaders:
They are the best ones to use because you worked with and took orders from them. Also, it shows your true colors within a professional environment. They will be able to tell your prospective employer about your work ethic and desire to meet your personal and professional goals.
Current/former professors or teaching assistants (TAs):
If you’re just starting out in the working world and don’t have a lot of experience, you can ask these people to provide a good word. Even though they’re not “work” references, you still showed work ethic, reliability and drive at school, which were presumably noticed by professors and TAs.
Supervisors from internships/volunteering:
These can be even more valuable than former managers and leaders or professors and TAs. Know why? Because interning and volunteering is free labor and can show your true work ethic and drive when you’re not getting paid. If you made a good impression on these people, they will tell your prospective employer that you sacrificed some moolah to gain valuable experience, arrived to your placement on time and went above and beyond your means to complete each task.
This can sometimes be tricky because the closest bond that you form at work is with the people you work with on the same level. A colleague that you chill with outside work can be perceived as biased and your prospective employer may not take their word about you seriously. Instead, use someone that you were on a “hi” and “bye” basis with at work – someone you would call an acquaintance and nothing more. They will be able to tell the prospective employer how well you got along with and interacted with them as well as with others in the workplace.