Choosing Your References Based on Job Description


Not all references are created equal. Sure they all may be able to talk about your greatest achievements, but when applying for a job it is important to find references that can discuss your skills in relation to the job you are applying for.

Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing References.

Do have a minimum of five go-to references so you can choose the most appropriate to the job you are applying for. Most employers will ask for three references, but you should have at least five or as many as ten to make sure you are covered. You probably have a variety of skills, so you want references who can speak to each of them, depending on what skills you are trying to emphasize.

Don’t provide a list of friends as reference. The hiring manager will want to learn about your experience and work ethic from a manager or at least someone who you have worked with. Colleagues are fine, especially if you worked closely together on projects that demonstrate the skills you want to highlight.

Don’t let references be taken by surprise. Let each of them know that an employer may be calling. Tell them about the job you are interviewing for and provide a job description where possible. They’ll need to know what skills in particular you’d like to have talked up. And make sure they will be available when the employer is likely to call.

Do make sure that the reference remembers you and is willing to speak about you positively. References should be people who you are in touch with. Supervisors should be relatively recent unless they are mentors who you continue to see on a somewhat regular basis.

Don’t choose the “strong, silent type.” Someone who worked closely with you and thinks fondly of you will be no help if they are too shy to sing your praises. Make sure your reference is articulate and reasonably outgoing.

Do your due diligence if don’t think you’re getting positive feedback from a reference. You should have confidence in the people you are choosing, but if you suspect that hiring managers are hearing faint praise, ask a friend to pose as an employer and call to find out what sort of review the reference is giving.

Solid references can make or break your job hunt. Select people you trust and that thoroughly understand the job you are applying for and you’ll increase the chances of landing your dream job.

Don’t wait to take the next step to advance your career. If you’re looking for a position in the engineering and construction industries RealStreet Staffing can help. Take a look at our available jobs or contact a recruiter today.

I have worked with RealStreet for the past five years to provide supplemental staffing for two federal government contracts. It has been a great partnership. I find RealStreet to be attentive and responsive to our needs, reliable, and they consistently find great people that fit what we need for multiple roles on two different programs.

Kevin T. Fitzpatrick, PMP, Peer Review Program Manager

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