"References: Available upon request." This is what you usually write at the bottom of your resume when you write it. But what happens if the hiring manager asks for references? Who should you put on your list? When you apply to a job, most places ask for two personal references and two professional references. What if you no longer speak to any of your former coworkers? You could have been the only person at your old job. What if you have never worked before?
Here are some ideas for job references you can use if you don't know who to ask. Check with the person first if they want to be on your reference list. You don't want them to feel like the hiring manager is putting them on the spot. There is a good chance that they won't be able to come up with a good answer because they don't have enough time to think of one.
A person who used to be your professor or teacher
If you haven't had a job before, a former professor or teacher is a great "professional" reference for you to use. A teacher is an impartial person who can give the hiring manager the information he or she needs about your work ethic and how excited you are about new things.
In the same way, your college advisor is another way to get help. If you want to talk to a hiring manager about your career goals when you were in college, an advisor is a good choice. An advisor can show the hiring manager how you've changed over time in meeting your goals. He or she can be an effective witness to your character if he or she was with you every step of the way and saw how hard you worked in college.
In the past, a supervisor who was your in charge
If one of the reasons you're leaving your current job is because you don't get along with your boss, you might want to ask a former boss to be your reference instead of your current one. Chances are, your supervisor spent enough time with you on your projects to give a hiring manager a clear picture of who you are as a person and what you did as a worker.
Colleagues from both the past and the present.
Most people pick former coworkers to be their references, but not everyone does. Former coworkers you still talk to are likely to be your friends. They can tell the hiring manager about the projects you worked on together. They can fill in the gaps in your resume and cover letter about your achievements as part of a team that you might have forgotten to write about in them.
When it comes to current coworkers, the same is true.
A lot of people don't know that they can use references from people they still work with. A person who is still working with you is the best person to show the hiring manager how good you are at your job right now.
A member of the family
It's easy for most people to list a family member as a personal reference, but some people might not think about it. As long as your family member can also speak about your skills as a professional, this has more power.
Because your mom is sure to give you a good review, you might want to list her as a reference. Instead, why not list your cousin who worked at the ice cream shop over summer break every year? They are just as likely to write a good review because they are your cousin, but you also have the added benefit of having worked with them before.
A Person from Your Past Who Is a Leader.
A few people don't have any family left and have never had a job. Then, what does a person do?
You can use any authority figure from your past who you trust and who can speak about your character as one of your references, as long as they can speak about your character. People who have been in charge of you can be anyone from your pastor to your old Boy Scout or Girl Scout leader. Check with them first, especially if it's someone you haven't talked to in years.
And, of course, no matter who you choose as a reference, always thank your references, even if the hiring manager doesn't get in touch with them! In the same way that you thank people who interviewed you, you also thank your references. Make sure to thank them and offer to be a reference for them if they ever need one.
Here at Ujuzingo, we've made it a habit to support accounting and finance enthusiasts put their best foot forward as they search for opportunities that meet their skills and career aspirations, while also assisting employers in finding more job-ready applicants. Check out our accounting and finance courses or current job openings.
Contributed by: Henry Mubiru Kweba.
Views expressed by our contributors are their own.