Most job applications ask for references, and most professionals have a long list of people who could talk positively about their work. Which of these potential references should make it onto your job application?  

To choose the best references among your available options: 

Ask, “What do I want my references to say about me?” 

The right references for a given job are those who will say the things you think the employer most needs to hear. For instance, do you want to highlight your strong work ethic? Do you want someone to talk in glowing terms about your success at a particular task, like leading a team or organizing reports? 

Decide which parts of your work need to stand out the most in this particular application, then start considering which references you’ll choose to meet that need. 

Determine how well each reference knows your professional work. 

Hiring managers often like to speak to your former supervisors because they share the supervisor’s perspective: the hiring manager is also looking for someone who will perform on their team. Yet your former bosses aren’t the only people who can serve as references.  

Other options for a strong reference are a mentor, former college professor, or a co-worker or colleague. Look for people you’ve worked closely within professional relationships, like work, school or volunteer experience. These are the people most likely to impress a hiring manager with their firsthand knowledge of your abilities.  

Seek permission. 

Never use a person as a reference without asking for their permission. Not everyone feels comfortable providing professional recommendations. Worse, a reference who doesn’t know they’ll be contacted may not respond to a phone call at all, effectively leaving you without someone who can speak on your behalf.  

If you receive a “yes,” be sure to get your reference’s contact information. Provide your reference a copy of your current resume, so they have a frame of reference when speaking to a potential employer.  

Seek other sources of help, too. 

References are a great addition to your team, but they aren’t the only third parties who can help you find a great new job. Consider working with a recruiter who can help you polish your resume, choose references and connect with job and career opportunities in your chosen field. 

Contact Us

The recruiters at SMR Group specialize in placing sales and marketing professionals with some of the best companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries. Contact us today to learn more. 

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