When you’re applying for jobs, a common request among employers is for you to provide a list of professional references. After your interview, your references could be a key component on whether you receive a job offer from a company.
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For each new job opportunity, you should make sure your list of references is the right fit. Think about your relationship with each person. How closely did you work with them? How recently did you work together? How will they explain your qualities to the hiring manager? All these details play a role in who goes on your list. You need to select people who will emphasize your strengths to potential employers.
It’s a good idea to prepare a document listing your references so you can have them ready for employers. Here are five people you can include on your list of professional references if you want to land the job:
1. Former Employer. A previous employer can provide the best insight into your work ethic. They know what your responsibilities were at your job and how you handled them.
2. Colleague. Someone you worked alongside at a previous job, even if they weren’t your boss, can be an excellent reference. They will be able to speak about things you worked on together and what you achieved as a team. Teamwork is one of the most important soft skills an employer looks for, so having someone to vouch for your teamwork skills is vital.
3. Teacher. A teacher or professor can provide a really strong reference, especially if they taught a course pertinent to your major. They will be able to talk about the skills you picked up during their course, as well as your personal character.
4. Advisor. An academic advisor, depending on the amount of time you spent with them, is another great option for a reference. If your advisor is someone who got to know you really well during your college career, they can talk about how you’ve grown into the professional you are today.
5. Supervisor. Someone who supervised you, but wasn’t necessarily your boss, could be another excellent reference to include. This could be a supervisor from a volunteer project, an internship, or some other extracurricular activity. Any of these people spent enough time working with you to get a sense of your character, and probably your passions. That combination makes for a great reference.
Choose at least three of these people to include on your list of professional references. Always bring a few copies of your list to interviews, in case you’re asked to provide them. Promptly let the people on your list know when a hiring manager asks for your references, so they know to expect a call or email.
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