WIN Center

Finding Career References

When you're starting your career it can be difficult to determine who you should list as a reference. Typically, hiring managers want to have at least three references, and these references should be people you have worked with in the past.

The purpose of including references is so that the hiring manager can verify that you are as great as you say you are. It's a safety net for them to make sure the information you've shared about yourself is accurate, so when you determine who to list make sure you have this mindset.

Ideally, your current boss would be a great reference - but NOT if they don't know you're looking for another job. We recommend that you list your previous boss if this is the case.

Other great references could be coworkers, previous supervisors, instructors, coaches, or a prominent person you know in the community. A prominent community member could be a doctor, pastor, banker, attorney, or local business owner who knows you.

Be sure to always ask the individual if they would be willing to be a reference for you before listing them as a reference. This is a courtesy and also gives them the opportunity to ask you what you're applying for and could start a conversation which leads you to other job openings in the community or industry. We do not recommend asking via text or email, you should either call them or ask them in person.

If you do not get a positive reaction from them on being a reference for you then we would recommend that you do not use them as a reference and instead find another person to be a reference.

Keep in mind that there is a different between being a reference and being a good reference. You want each of your references to be a positive reference for you, or they could potentially ruin your employment opportunities and career growth.

The worst thing you could do when it comes to references is listing someone who does not give you a good recommendation, so be sure to use your intuition and gut when determining if they will be a positive reference for you.