Professional References: Who You Can & Cannot Use

This question comes up a lot on our blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. So, who exactly should you use as a reference? Friends, family, friends of the family? We’re going to break it down for you.

Andrea Barger |
Andrea is our head of PR at Snagajob, where she’s focused on telling the world how we help hourly workers and employers. Her first hourly job was as a lifeguard.
Categories: Applying

Your best bet is to keep your references as professional as possible. Your neighbor probably isn’t the best way to go, unless you’ve done odd jobs for them, like lawn care or babysitting.

Okay to use as a reference:

Avoid using as a reference:

  • Family

  • Friends (BFF included)

  • Fiance

  • Your cousin’s friend’s daughter’s boyfriend

  • A famous person you don’t know (I’ve heard of this happening before!)

Basically, you want to keep it to people who can attest to your work ethic. By using people who can give specific examples as to how reliable you are, you will be setting yourself up to look like an ideal employee.

When you do land that big interview, bring a copy of three references with you. Even if they don’t ask for it, offer it up before you leave and encourage them to call. It can look something like this:

Reference NameReference relationship
Company Name
Company Address
Reference phone number
Reference email

As always, make sure you ask your references if you can use them before you put them down. Also, if you asked them a while ago but are getting back into the job search game, give them a heads up that you are starting your search again and they may be hearing from someone. This will also remind them to keep an eye out for any openings for you!

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