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Employers want to know that you are going to be hard working, loyal and a great asset to the company. One of the best ways of showing these qualities to a prospective employer is by gaining solid references from past supervisors, co-workers or teachers. In particular, nothing makes you look better than getting a favorable reference from a former supervisor. Here are some rules to effectively gaining solid references.

  1. This is obvious…Earn the reference. If you’ve performed well at your past jobs and developed solid, professional relationships with your supervisors, they should be more than happy to provide a reference for you. If you’re fresh out of school and don’t have much work experience, teachers, coaches or mentors who you developed great relationships with should also be happy to provide a reference for you.
  2. Don’t use friends or family. It’s great that your mom thinks you’re a hard worker, and she’s probably right…but she won’t make a good professional reference because she’s clearly biased and unless it was a family run business, she would not have seen your work performance day to day on the job.
  3. Ask for permission first. Before you start listing your references in an employment application, you will want to ask their permission first. This way, they won’t be caught off guard if they receive a phone call from your prospective employer asking to provide a reference for you.

Ultimately, it all starts with earning the references. It is a privilege to have a network of current and former supervisors, co-workers and other mentors there for you when you need them to get the next great career you want. By being a great employee/student and developing strong professional relationships, you will earn those references.