5 Tips to Consider When Selecting Your Job References

Oct 4, 2016

When applying for a job, solid references are key. If you’ve worked in a variety of jobs, choosing who to list as a reference can be a tough decision, but it is an important one. Whom you select may vary depending on the type of job you are applying to. Even if you’re just beginning your work life, positive references can help you launch your career.

While providing a resume may be an optional part of the job application process, references are typically a requirement. Friday Services will contact your references (at least two) as part of your application process. Also note that providing extra references can always help. Going the extra mile shows you are serious. Generally speaking, the best references are authority figures who can vouch for your work ethic and character.

From finding a position that matches your skill set to arriving on time for the interview, each step of the job search is important. At Friday Services, we’ve been helping workers find great jobs in Western North Carolina for almost 36 years now and our team knows this process well.

So whom should you choose? We’ve compiled a list of five tips to help inform your decisions when it comes to selecting the most appropriate references.

  1. Choose people who can speak about different parts of your work history. References can expect to give a description of their relationship with you and a description of your past duties. Select people who worked with you in different capacities. Perhaps you have one person in mind who can speak to your technical skills as you operated a forklift under their supervision. Another person could speak to your leadership skills in another position you held.
  2. If you are a recent college or high school graduate and have no work experience, don’t worry. Since most employers will not accept a personal reference, such as a family member or friend, think about someone for whom you completed tasks. Is there a teacher, preacher, coach, mentor, or reputable member of the community who knows you well? Perhaps you mowed a neighbor’s lawn for several summers, or earned good grades in a particular course. Think of someone who can attest to your punctuality and character. Employees who show up on time, ready to work, are very desirable in the competitive market.
  3. Make sure contact information for the references is up to date. If it’s been a few years since you’ve contacted your reference, their email address or phone number may have changed. Ensuring that you provide the most relevant contact information in your application saves Friday’s staff time and helps streamline the hiring process.
  4. While a reference can be a boss or manager at a job, they do not always have to be connected with paid work. People who oversaw volunteer work can also serve as references. If you’re an active volunteer in your community and the skill set you gained through those efforts is applicable to the job, that reference can be just as useful to help the employer determine if you’re a good fit.
  5. Alert your reference that they may be contacted as you search for a job. Before listing anyone as a reference, check in with them. This communication gives them a heads up that they may be contacted and also helps them brainstorm what they might say in your favor. It’s also a good practice to thank your reference. Send them a card or give them a call and express your appreciation for their time.

Got Your References? Now What?

Remember that references are supplemental parts of your entire application package. Choosing people who can convey your skills and positive attitude will help you get the job. It always pays to be prepared.

If you are ready to get started today, take a look at all of the currently available positions on our job listings page, and then fill out our online application. To keep the process efficient, it’s a good idea to completely answer all the questions on the form. After you submit your application, a member of Friday’s team will review and make contact with you as soon as possible, always within 24 business hours. Take a look at our FAQs and reach out to the Friday Services office nearest you with any questions.


If you see a lot of potential in yourself – so do we! Start your job search and learn about the opportunities and benefits offered.


Friday Services is independent and locally owned. We offer Western North Carolina employers strategic flexibility with greater attention to detail.