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Who should you ask for a job reference? How do you ask? Will they say yes? Do employers even look at job references? What do they ask your references? Applying for jobs can be stressful from start to finish, and securing good references is particularly tricky. A potential employer’s call to your references could make or break your application, and if you have a bad reference, you could miss an important opportunity. Staffers is here to help answer the above questions and give you some tips on how to tackle this part of your application.

Who should you ask?

Most importantly, you want to make sure your references will say great things about you! Ask a former employer, work colleague, teacher (if you recently graduated), or supervisor who can speak to your skills and value as an employee or coworker. As Liz Ryan writes in her article, “The Truth About Job References,” “If you see by the look on your old boss’s face that s/he doesn’t want to be a reference for you, don’t push it!”

How do you ask?

We recommend sending your potential reference request either by mail or email. In the subject, make sure to include why you are reaching out, so they know you may need a quick response. The wording of your email is important, too. As Alison Doyle, writing for Careers says, “ask [your references] whether or not they would feel qualified or comfortable providing you with a reference.” This gives them a chance to say they don’t feel comfortable doing so and helps eliminate the possibility of giving a bad reference to your potential employer. Be sure to include any updated information regarding your experience or qualifications since you last worked for your reference.

Do employers even look at job references?

The short answer is yes, though they typically do so when you are under serious consideration. According to SkillSurvey, 70% of their respondents said they reference check for every job candidate, and 86% said that completing the reference checks before making a job offer is, “one of the most important steps in the hiring process.”

What will potential employers ask your references?

Hiring Managers or employers will ask questions of varying depth. Generally, they confirm the amount of time you worked at the company listed on your resume and check that the job description you included matches that of your previous employer. They may also ask what type of employee you were (i.e. how you collaborated with others, whether or not you worked well independently, etc.) or whether or not your reference would rehire you.


Do you need more help in finding your next great job?

Call Staffers. As one of the top employment agencies in Jackson, MS, we want to help you find a job that you’re passionate about – whether it’s temporary or full-time. We will work with you to find the companies and positions that will help you achieve your goals and enhance your skills. Call us today to learn more.

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