We’ve all heard the term “job references” but what exactly are they? And is there some specific format or type of reference that employers prefer to help them do their reference checking?
NOTE: For more on reference checking and the reference checker who does the actual contacts and review click here.
How do references work?
Basically, an employer who is interested in you wants to make sure you are who you seem to be. Let’s say you impress them in the interview process. But do you have a work history that includes letting an employer down? Or are you someone they can count on.
So most employers will ask you for references from your direct bosses / supervisors. Or from coworkers, especially if you also have at least one direct manager on your list. Creditable people who know you well and can vouch for your abilities and character may also qualify. (Big plus if your prospective boss knows them.)
But the majority of prospective employers strongly prefer direct bosses / supervisors from a current job (if possible) and recent past jobs. If for some reason you can’t provide any bosses, then there may be acceptable alternatives. (See posts below for more on this.)
More about job references
The first post offers a format for you to use that also provides a way to explain anything about your references that needs further explanation. Some of the others offer ideas if you are having trouble finding references who know you as a direct report.