Putting together a team of strong references is a make-or-break part of your job search. While this subject doesn’t get much attention, the truth is that nothing can sink your candidacy faster than a bad reference. It’s not enough to just pick three people who have nice things to say about you – they have to be legitimate information sources for the hiring manager. We’ve broken down the ideal reference lineup:
Your Previous Manager
The heavy-hitter of your references, nothing can put you ahead of the pack like having a strong recommendation from your previous employer. In addition to providing insight into your performance, strengths and weaknesses, and growth as a professional, your previous manager will provide more credibility than any other source.
A Current Colleague
Want to show evidence of success in your current role but don’t want to ask your boss? Enlist a teammate as a reference. While it’s best to keep your job search as quiet as possible, finding a trustworthy colleague to speak on your behalf can help show how valuable you are to the team as a whole.
Someone from an Outside Organization or a Business Mentor
Whether it’s a member of a volunteer organization, a professional organization, or a business mentor, having a reference from outside your place of work can provide a unique perspective that will help a hiring manager understand a different facet of you. They can provide insights on aspects of your character that extend outside the workplace and will create a more well-rounded representation of you.