6 steps to job reference success

Job references are a must for employees in the hiring process, and a good reference can be the difference between you either securing or missing out on that dream job.

Good references don’t just happen, it takes time and effort on your part – preparation is key. Here are 6 easy ways to help you start generating great references.

1. Think

When thinking about job references, it is important to consider: which people in your life can best promote you? Think of people you have worked with or impressed with your skills, abilities or attitude.

Make sure you only ask those who you believe will give you a positive reference, because a weak reference can reduce your chances of getting the job you applied for.

A good professional reference can be a former employer, co-worker, teacher, supervisor, vendor or client that is aware of your abilities and attributes.

If you are unable to use professional references you can list personal references – these are people who know you and can speak about your personality or character. Some good candidates are: teachers, acquaintances, neighbours, coaches, and volunteer supervisors.

2. Choose

Remember that the referees you choose may change depending on the job you are applying for, so think about who is the most appropriate person to list as a reference for the position you are applying for. In other words, tailor your references like you would tailor your cover letter.

It’s a good idea to choose someone you know you can rely upon. This means you should pick someone who you know will answer the phone call or who will get back to the prospective employer in a timely manner. If they are unreliable in this way, you probably shouldn’t list them, as most employers won’t chase down references, they will just move on to the next suitable job applicant.

3. Ask

After you have chosen your job references, make sure you ask if they are willing to give a positive recommendation as your referee. You definitely should not list references you have not asked.

Make sure you confirm their details, ensuring you have their full name, job title and up-to-date contact information. It’s also a good idea to verify how and when your references would like to be contacted.

4. Explain

Make sure you explain what it is you want from your referees, if you want them to talk with your prospective employer about particular skills or attributes you have, remind them of this.

In order for your referees to give you the best recommendation they need information and they need to be prepared. So give your references as much detail as you can, outline the type of position you are applying for and the job description. It would also help to tell them who might be calling and when they can expect the call.

5. Thank

Don’t forget to thank your referees, whether you get the job or not, they have done you a favour and took the time to speak on your behalf.

A quick call, thank you note or small token gift is a polite way to show your appreciation, and can help maintain a good relationship with them and may increase the likelihood of them agreeing to act as your referee again in the future.

6. Learn

If you didn’t get the job don’t be hard on yourself, instead focus on the opportunity to learn from this process. Ask your references what questions the employer asked and how they answered them.

This information can help you prepare for future applications, and next time you’ll be able to brief your references accordingly.


STEPS Employment Solutions can help you prepare and find work 1300 078 377

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you! Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt
Portrait of a smiling man at work with co-workers holding a meeting in the background.Smiling man and woman walk together