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References: What You Need to Know

If you’re actively seeking a new job, you’ve probably spent a lot of time updating your resume and cover letters. However, giving some thought to your references can give you an advantage during your job search. Quality references can significantly enhance your application and help you stand out in the talent pool, shedding light on you not just as a professional, but as a person. No matter where you are in your career, understanding the role of references in the job search process will serve you well. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about how references work:

What types of references are there?

There are many types of references you can use for jobs, with the most common being professional, academic, and personal references. Being able to provide employers with at least one or two solid references is critical for reinforcing your skills and qualifications to employers, as well as your ability to work well with others. Gathering a variety of references will be helpful as you customize your resume and application materials for different jobs and industries. It will also show employers that you’ve developed strong professional and personal relationships throughout your career and prior employment experiences.

How can I identify the best references? 

If you feel as though you’re lacking adequate references, there are steps you can take to start acquiring a list of references for your job search. First, take a close look at your resume and consider any bosses or coworkers at former places of employment. Anybody with whom you’ve had a positive working relationship has the potential to be a reference. Second, think about any community or volunteer activities in which you’ve developed personal relationships. For instance, a fellow board member or volunteer coordinator may be able to speak to your character and morale. Lastly, consider any professors or instructors from educational or training programs. Often these types of individuals can provide both professional and academic references, depending on the type of job you’re seeking.

How do I reach out to potential references? 

Before using someone as a reference, it’s imperative to ask them first if they are willing to speak on your behalf. Once they’ve agreed to be a reference, be sure to gather their most current contact information, including their phone numbers and email addresses so hiring managers can easily get in touch with them. It’s a good idea to notify your references about the types of jobs to which you’re applying. This will help them prepare their remarks in preparation for an employer’s call. Above all, always be gracious and thank your references for their time and support. References are an invaluable part of your network and can be a wonderful resource in your career growth. Keeping in close contact with individuals who advocate for you is part of maintaining a successful professional network that opens doors to new opportunities.

Should I always provide references? 

Remember to use your discretion before immediately listing the names and contact information of a reference. Offering references may not be appropriate for every type of job or opportunity and can sometimes cause you more harm than good. For instance, providing the name of somebody who’s politically connected with an organization may be a conflict of interest. Or, if your reference happens to be a direct competitor of the employer, this may not bode well. Evaluating each job application on a case-by-case basis will help you determine what types of references are most suitable.

How do I provide my references to employers?

Many applications will directly ask you to list a set of references and their relationships to you. Unless specified, you generally do not need to put references on your resume. Most commonly, employers will request reference information either before or after an interview. Having a list of references ready will ensure you can send them to employers in a timely fashion. Keep in mind some employers don’t request any references, so never assume you must provide them unless specified throughout the application process.


Acquiring a strong set of references over the course of your career can undoubtedly help you land more interviews and ultimately obtain a job that’s in alignment with your qualifications and personality. Taking the time to gather at least two or three references before you begin applications can alleviate stress, complement your resume, and improve job search outcomes.


Planning to make a career change in 2022? By working with HH Staffing, a top Florida staffing agency, you’ll receive assistance finding employment in a wide range of industries, including property management, accounting and finance, office and administrative, and light industrial, among others. Get in touch and learn how our experienced recruiting team can help you find your next job!


Until Next Time,


Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO, and Chief Servant

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Current owner of HH Staffing and Former Chief HR Officer for several successful Multinational Fortune 500 Companies. Brings a fresh perspective from decades of experiences creating Great Workplace Cultures by building high-performance teams while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. HH Staffing is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, and is uniquely positioned to serve both local and national clients.