Your References: An Undervalued Tool that Helps Employers Hire You

Editorial Team

Tool that Helps Employers Hire You

If you are job hunting, you should realize many things go into that. You must use all available resources to get the position that suits you best.

You want one that pays well and hopefully has some great benefits. Perhaps you’ll get one that offers you healthcare, a 401K with employer matching, paid vacation time, etc.

You can update your resume and look on sites like Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed, and others. You should also think about some professional and personal references that you can give who will say you’re a reliable, diligent worker, and the person with whom you’re interviewing should hire you.

Your potential employer will ask your references questions, and you should know what they’ll ask. We’ll talk about that in this article. You must give professional and personal references who can answer these questions the right way.

Professional References

First, let’s talk about professional references. Your professional references should know you from a workplace setting, not a personal one. A former boss or coworker could work. If you don’t have very much job-related experience yet, you might give a professor’s name. Recent college graduates sometimes do this.

The hiring manager or whoever else contacts your professional reference will ask how they know you. They will ask whether they worked with you at some point. They will ask how your employment ended.

Because someone potentially hiring you will ask how your previous employment ended, you should not give your former boss as a reference if you left under strained or unprofessional circumstances. If your old boss fired you for cause, you should never give their name as a reference.

What Else Might Your Would-Be Boss Ask Your Professional References?

They may also ask about your previous job titles and whether you received any promotions. They may have questions about your employment skills. They will ask about whether you’re punctual, and perhaps they’ll ask about your attitude while at work.

If you’re trying to get a job with frequent customer interactions, the person considering hiring you might ask about your professional demeanor. They’ll ask whether you can control your temper and whether you help out around the office.

They may ask about your former duties and whether you have any deficiencies. If you feel the individual that you wrote down won’t give you a glowing recommendation, you must jot down another name.

Personal References

Personal references or character references have a slightly different job. The hiring manager or whoever’s contacting them probably knows you have never worked with these people, but they know about you, just the same. 

Someone like a childhood friend might work, or a favorite teacher. If you ever did volunteer work, someone who worked with you in that capacity might do the job nicely.

The hiring manager or whoever reaches out will ask whether you’re a trustworthy person. They might ask whether you demonstrate reliability and honesty.

They may ask whether this person knows about any criminal behavior. They can find out about this via a background check, but they might still bring up the subject.

They may ask whether you handle challenges or stressful situations well. They’ll ask about your core characteristics or attributes. They’ll finish by asking the most critical question: would you recommend this person for the position?

Why Your References Matter More than You Think

You might feel like your resume speaks for itself and you nailed the interview. Your references might come into play more than you imagine, though.

Say you have an impressive resume, and you’re well-spoken in the interview. You impress the hiring manager or business owner, but they interviewed several people with similar qualifications.

In these scenarios, your references can act like tie-breakers. Your prospective boss wants to know about your most personal qualities. They want assurance you have the people skills and background the job requires. If you will have regular customer or client interactions while on the job, these skills matter even more.

You shouldn’t name just any professional or character references who like you. You need the ones who can articulate your personality. If you give a character reference who likes you, but they give one-word responses, that hardly puts you in the optimal position to secure the job over someone else.

Tell your references they can expect calls, and they should consider what they’ll say. If the business owner or hiring manager does not catch them off guard, they should give well-thought-out answers.