Job references: why and how to ask for them

Posted by Fed Finance in Our employment advice
Posted at 22/11/2021
Job references: why and how to ask for them

A work reference is important when looking for a job, it is a way of reassuring the recruiter about your hard and soft skills. Find out who you should ask and how. Get to know Fed Finance's tips.

Job references: all you need to know 
References are testimonials from people who have had work experience with you and are willing to attest to your professional and human value. These people may be contacted by recruiters to give an objective opinion about you regarding your hard and soft skills for a job.

Why is it important?
It helps to stand out from other candidates
References are an increasingly important element in recruitment processes and can even determine hiring. They have the power to influence the recruiters' decisions, positively or negatively, as they make it possible to confirm the information passed on by the professional during the selection process. The most desirable references are those that are most like the company you are applying for or from people who work there. 

It adds credibility to your application 
The greater the credibility conveyed by your references the greater your chances of securing the position for yourself. They confirm your personal, professional and/or technical qualities. They provide the recruiter with reliable back-up to assure him/her that you are the ideal candidate.

Who to ask for that?
Choose the right people to ask for references about you. You should consider responsible people, where possible with high-level positions, who can confirm that you have worked in a certain place and job. References should be requested from those who have worked directly with you and recognize your skills and potential. Choose people who admire and respect you for your work. You can ask for references from a previous manager, director or clients. Colleagues can also be considered, but for online references.
If your reference is someone well known in the field you are applying for or someone who has an admirable position in an organization, you may impress the  recruiter. You will usually need to provide potential employers with three references. 

How to ask? 
Requests for references should be made by telephone or email. Ask if the person thinks they know you well enough to give references and if they feel comfortable doing so. If the answer is favorable, suggest sending your updated resume or giving more information so that the person concerned has all the relevant information on their side. It is very important that you warn and ask permission before referring someone as a reference. Make sure you select people who will give you a glowing reference. Think of people who can speak to your potential and specific qualifications for the position you are applying for. 

Alternative references if you have little or no work experience
In case you have never worked or if you have been out of work for a long time, you could for example ask for references from a teacher, who can highlight your work value and personality as a student. Another example could be a volunteer coordinator if you have done voluntary work in the past.

Get resume references on LinkedIn 

Another very effective way to get references is through LinkedIn. You should have your profile updated and active. Recruiters can easily access it and check what they are saying about you. A good strategy is to write recommendations to your former colleagues or former bosses, as in return you may receive recommendations as well. However, in case this does not happen you can even ask directly, for example through a private message on the social network. Learn how to request a recommendation on LinkedIn

What recruiters usually ask:

  • Activities performed.
  • Interpersonal relationships and teamwork.
  • Ethics and conduct.
  • Commitment to work.
  • Interest in constant learning/updating.
  • Leadership, when it comes to management positions.


  • References should be honest, modest and simple.
  • Do not add an outdated reference in your curriculum vitae.
  • Make your references according to the position in question.
  • Create a list of references. You should be able to provide contact details to potential employers at any time.
  • Do not make your list of references too long. Try to list three to five references at most.
  • Only put the references in the curriculum if you are asked for them.
  • Never put references when you post your resume on publicly accessible online platforms.
  • You should ask your contacts to focus on your soft and hard skills.
  • Don't forget to keep in touch with your references from time to time. Networking is key.
  • Thank references if you get the job.

Job references can be the deciding factor in getting you selected. Build a good list with our tips.
Fed Finance is made up exclusively of professionals dedicated to the finance and accounting professions. As true experts in this sector, our consultants will advise and guide you throughout the recruitment process. Send us your application.