How to Get Great References

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There are many times when a potential employer will ask you to provide them with professional references. One of the most common times is when you are just out of college and applying for your first entry level job in your field. When you don't have much, if any, related job experience, having great references is vital. Finding the right people to provide such references can be difficult.

Here are some tips for obtaining great references:

  • Choose your references wisely- You won't want to include family members or friends of your parents if you can help it. However, if your long time family friend is an executive in the field you are entering, by all means, use them. Otherwise, try to select people who can vouch for your experience, skills and abilities. If you have a mentor or an academic adviser with whom you are especially close, or a professor who you worked with often, they would be good choices. If you held down a part-time job throughout college, higher ups and co-workers can be good choices as well. Keep in mind that anyone for whon you have worked, supervisors and professors, for example would be considered business references, while the head of an organization you have volunteered for would be personal reference. Make sure you know which kind the employer is looking for.

  • Ask before you use them- This is very important. Don't just list people as references and hope for the best. Contact the people you want to use and ask them if they would be willing to give you a good reference. If they seem at all hesitant, it is better to find someone else. You don't want to risk having an unenthusiastic reference.

  • Keep your contacts informed about your job search- Touch base with your references to let them know the status of your job search. It is a good idea to make sure that these key people have a copy of your resume and are familiar with your career goals. It isn't likely to impress an employer if your reference doesn't really know much about you or the type of career you are looking for.

  • Don't burn bridges- When you leave a job or leave college, don't neglect the contacts you made there. Keeping a well connected, vibrant professional network can be an invaluable tool in your future career. Always keep in mind that the people you work for today may be references in the future, so do your best to be professional when you leave a job and avoid bad mouthing former bosses and co-workers.

Are you looking for a new job? Check out CollegeJobBank.

By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.
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