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Who Should Be on My List of References?

When applying for jobs, most employers request a list of professional references. These people may play a role in whether you’re offered a job with the company you want. For this reason, be sure your list of refences is tailored to each position. Include people you recently worked closely with and can explain your qualities to the hiring manager. Choose professionals who can emphasize your strengths and provide concreate examples of why you’re best suited for a position.

Here are five types of people to include on your list of professional references.

Previous Employers

Managers you worked for can provide insight into your work ethic. They’re able to describe the responsibilities you fulfilled and how well you handled them. Managers can share your achievements and relationships with teammates.

Former Colleagues

Colleagues from previous jobs are able to provide details on projects you collaborated on. They can mention how your strengths, skills, and guidance contributed to team successes. Previous colleagues are able to discuss your individual and team achievements and how they benefitted the organization. Former colleagues saw you perform your job duties, understand your skills and capabilities, and can attest to your qualifications for a new job.


A faculty member who taught a course related to your major can talk about the knowledge and skills you picked up during their course. They’re able to attest to your personal character, which can help you secure a role.

Academic Advisor

If you spent a significant amount of time with an academic advisor, include them on your reference list. Since they got to know you well for several years, they can discuss ways you’ve grown into the professional you are.


Someone who supervised you but wasn’t your boss can serve as a reference. They may be a supervisor from a volunteer project, internship, or other activity. If the supervisor spent enough time working with you, they know about your character, passions, and work ethic.

How to Request References

Be sure you ask each individual whether they’ll serve as a reference. If they agree, let them know whom may be contacting them and which company they work for. Share information about the position you applied for, job responsibilities, and other pertinent details. Your references can prepare what to say ahead of time to show why you’re qualified for the role. Ask each person to provide their job title, company name and address, email address, and phone number. Include this information, along with your relationship to each professional, on your reference list. Thank each individual for their help. Keep them updated on your progress throughout the recruitment process.

Find Your Next Finance, Accounting, or Admin Role

Find your next finance, accounting, or admin role through Proficient Staffing. We know many hiring managers and have inside tracks with unposted vacancies. See which jobs interest you today.


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