When a company asks for your references, it means you’re close to receiving a job offer. References play a crucial role in your job search as what your references say can make or break your chances of securing the position. It is paramount that you select the right people, maintain the relationships, and properly brief them on the roles you are applying for. Read the tips below to ensure you obtain the best possible references.


It is important to have a strong collection of current and relevant references on hand to support you in your job search. Choose referees who:

·         You have worked with closely within the last five years.

·         Know your strengths and will speak highly of you.

·         Can verify and discuss your skills, experience, and abilities in detail.

Such people could be current or past managers, managers from other departments with whom you’ve worked closely with, external clients, suppliers, or colleagues. You must always secure their permission before listing them as referees and double-check that their titles and contact details are correct.


It is important to prepare your referees before you list them, so they are in a position to give you a strong, positive referral. Let them know that you are job hunting and will contact them when a reference is required. When that time comes, provide them with a description of the role you have applied for and details on when and by whom, they will be contacted.

Have a short conversation with your referee and share your thoughts on how your experience and personal attributes are relevant to the new role. This allows the referee to reinforce aspects of your past performance and accurately relate them to this new position. This will show you in the best light!


It is important to keep in regular contact with your referees so that the relationship remains strong. Keep them informed on your job search activities and be sure to express your appreciation for the time they put into your recommendations - regardless of the outcome. Let them know when you secure a role and remain in contact to update them on your career and personal progress.

It’s a good idea to make sure your references don’t contradict your resume. For more advice, see our tips on writing a winning resume.


When requesting for references keep in mind the following points:

  1. Choose your referees carefully
  2. Prepare them prior to being approached by potential employers
  3. Maintain contact with them throughout the job search process and inform them of the outcome. 
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