General, Job Search

Who can I list as my reference for a job?

Choose your references wisely.

At some point in the recruiting process, you will be asked to provide references. It can be before the interview, after the interview, and some companies can wait until you are hired to ask for them. But, you will be asked to provide professional job references sooner or later. If you need a few ideas or a reminder of who should be on your list, keep on reading this article. We’re sure you will find it useful.

The classics

Maintaining good business relationships is important.The “go-to” which everyone uses and wants to use (and is great to use) are your former supervisors. It can be a team leader, assistant manager, manager, or any other type of supervisor, this will, of course, depend on the line of work you do. This will show your potential employer that you can be trusted and that you built a stable business relationship with your supervisors.

Another classic move when it comes to listing references for a job is most certainly university professors or assistants. Why? Because you have worked closely with them and they have a pretty good idea of who you are and how you work. They will for sure be up for it.


Next, you can also utilize your colleagues – both current and former. If you trust your current ones won’t say anything to the management, go with them. Former colleagues are also a good choice, especially if you worked together for a long time.

You can ask them to share their opinion on your organizational and communication skills if nothing else.

This also shows your competence to work well in a team and ability to develop and maintain a high level of collegiality since those who worked beside you are willing to vouch for you. And who doesn’t like a team player?

Direct reports

If you are not sure whom to ask and you have been someone’s supervisor, you can ask them to be your references. Just make sure those are your former direct reports…revealing to your current ones that you are actively looking for a job might not be that great of an idea. Also, they will most probably feel pressured into saying yes. And that could also lead to some HR problems.

Remember, direct reports can be a great resource – they can share useful insights with the recruiters and/or hiring managers. Do not neglect them if you have them as an option.

One final thing

However, no matter who you choose to list, make sure to give them a heads-up. Talk to them first and ask for their permission. Never go and give someone’s phone number or email address before letting them know you are planning to do this.

Also, it goes without saying you should only list the people you are 100% sure will speak highly of you!

For more interesting and useful career and job search tips, check out our Blog.

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