Who should I ask to be my reference?

Elyssa Duncan
Community Specialist
May 1, 2020

When you’re in the process of a job hunt, potential employers will ask about your references, so it’s important to have them ready to go with your #application! But who should you ask?

Here are a few ideas for job references you can turn to if you aren’t quite sure. No matter who you are asking, be sure to always ask their permission before listing them this way they aren’t surprised or worse unsure what to say when they are contacted.

Top Reference Ideas

A Former Manager

This is one of the most common and significant professional references. They can speak accurately to your work ethic and dependability. They know your past responsibilities, day to day activities and can paint an accurate picture of who you are as a worker.

A Former Professor or Teacher

If you have never had a job, a past professor or teacher can be an excellent professional reference. They will be able to discuss your work ethic, willingness to learn and your ability to work well with others.

A Former Coach

If you were an athlete, you might want to consider using your coach as a reference. They may not seem like the first person you'd call while in the middle of a #JobSearch, but they can attest to your leadership abilities, and chances are they know you on a more personal level, so they can speak about your overall character.

Former + Current Colleagues

These are you every day “peeps” who can talk about the different projects you worked on together and can vouch for your exceptional collaboration and interpersonal skills! They’ll also be able to fill the gaps in your achievements that may not be upfront in your resume.

A Place You Have Volunteered

Chances are that you left a lasting impression at an organization you previously volunteered with. Ask them if they’d be inclined to provide a reference. This reference will help to highlight your passion for helping others and willingness to go beyond what’s asked of you.

A Past Client

We’ve all had odd jobs throughout the years. If you babysat for a family regularly or mowed a neighbor’s lawn every summer. These individuals can let a potential employer know about the consistency and detail of your work.

Advice: Moving Forward

It’s essential to maintain relationships healthy with coworkers, managers and anyone that would be able to provide a positive reference in the future. Always be sure to show your gratitude by sending a personal thank you note or even sending a small token of your appreciation!

Who will you ask to be YOUR reference and why?



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