When you’re searching for a job, it’s inevitable that the subject of references will come up. This is something that many people are very unsure of, and there is some etiquette involved. We put together this guide for how to pick references to set yourself up for success.

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Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re choosing references.

Make a List of Possibilities

Sometimes the thought of choosing people who will attest to your skills, talent, and personality can be daunting. However, this is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen relationships and to learn more about what you bring to a potential employer. So who do you ask? Past managers and supervisors are a great bet because they can attest to how well you’ve worked in the past and are credible to a prospective employer. Past volunteer work coordinators are good, because they can testify to your work ethic, even if the work wasn’t paid. If you’re involved in other civic work or have held an office in a club (like Rotary or a philanthropic organization), use other officers’ names. For those who are self-employed, you can use clients who can speak for your abilities. High school and college students can use teachers.

Who Not To Use as a Reference

As much as your parents love you, they should never be used as a job reference. And the same goes for aunts, uncles, siblings, and grandparents. Your best friend and significant other are also out. Employers won’t take these references credibly because they’re biased and probably don’t know you professionally. Additionally, don’t use fake references. When the truth is found out (and it most likely will be!) it will reflect negatively and likely ruin your credibility.

Etiquette for Asking for a Reference

The cardinal rule of references is that before you add somebody’s name to your application or resume, you should ask for their permission. Never blindside somebody with a reference check for a few reasons. For one, they might not be able to give you a good reference because they don’t feel they know your work ethic well enough to give examples to a potential employer. And, although it’s probably tough to think about, they might not view your working relationship as favorably as you did.

Discuss the Role

For the references who accept, you’ll want to get more than the “yes” before moving on. Let them know what the role you’re applying for involves and who you will be working for. Communicate that it would be very important for them to emphasize your skills in sales, relationship-building, and performance if that’s what the job is specifically looking for. This will be very helpful for your reference and for your potential employer, too!

Choosing references is far more than putting down supervisors you’ve worked with. It involves thought, preparation, and communication. We hope this gives you some ideas to get your references put together, and when you’re ready to apply for a job a Cornerstone Marketing Solutions, visit our Careers page today!