The Importance of Great Professional & Personal References

So, you have completed an excellent interview and are now preparing for a big career move into new job position- you are just waiting to finish the last step of your interview process… your references.  Hiring managers will often ask for references in hopes of completing a more multi-faceted picture of the type of employee or team member you are.  Choosing the proper references who will speak of you positively and help to showcase your professionalism could help to solidify your chances of gaining a new job offer.  Before aimlessly jotting down a couple of managers or employees who have worked with you in the past; really take the time to consider who would be the best reference to your personality and work ethic.

Professional References

A good place to start when choosing a set of professional references may be listing former employers, employees, co-workers, or associates who you believe would give an excellent review about your qualifications and skillsets.  Although, professional references should feel obligated to speak only of your leadership qualities and work ethic, it will be to your benefit to choose references that you are on good terms and whom you have left a positive impression with.  After you have created a list of potential references (who you are confident will give you a glowing review), narrow down your list to individuals who will align with the industry or position you are applying for.  For example: if you are applying for a management position, if would be a good idea to include a reference who has experienced your management skills.  If possible, include individuals from different companies or organizations as professional references to add a better dimension to your overall impression.

Personal References

Personal references are not as commonly requested as professional references, but be prepared in the event of them being included!  Even though personal references are intended showcase your personality and demeanor, hiring managers are ultimately looking for insights as to how you will work and cooperate within the company’s team or environment.  It will be important to include personal references that will not only speak highly of your work ethic and personality, but that will also share examples of working with you in the past.  Good personal references may be found in groups you volunteer with, a happy customer/client, or a co-worker.  Try to avoid using immediate family members and significant others as personal references as they may not have be able to offer a balanced opinion of your skills and traits.

Plan for Your References Opinion

No matter if a hiring manager requests solely professional references or a combination of professional and personal, make sure to prepare your chosen references for receiving an inquiry!  Before listing an individual as a reference, it is smart to follow these steps in choosing and informing a potential reference:

  1. Ask their permission to include them as a reference
  2. Ask them to keep in mind examples or stories to share that highlight your skillsets
  3. Make sure your references can be easily contacted
  4. Keep in touch with your chosen references throughout the interview process
  5. Keep your references up-to-date with the stage of interview process

Having a quality set of professional and personal references chosen ahead of time will elevate stress and ensure that you will have a small team of supporters behind you as you search for a new position!  Make sure that these individuals are able and willing to share how wonderfully professional and personable you are, and good luck interviewing!