Reference checks are an extremely common part of the hiring process. One survey showed that 87% of employers use this tool while making their hiring decisions. As such, you need to be prepared when it’s time, choosing references that can secure you the job offer you deserve.

Think of it like your own super-team. Who will you recruit as the Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man of your reference Avengers? The right selections can give that extra edge to your job-search process.

It helps to connect with the right employers. A top recruiter, like SmartTalent, can pair you with the ideal situation, making the reference choices less crucial.

Meanwhile, with certain companies, the wrong choices can kill your candidacy early on. Another survey noted that about one in six employers (16%) contacted references before scheduling job interviews. Without a top-notch recommendation, you might not even get a chance to make your case.

Given these dynamics, here are aspects to weigh as you choose your job references:

Consider Your Potential References

To a certain extent, you have a long list of potential references. Adding up all the people you’ve met during your life, there might exist dozens or even hundreds of individuals who could discuss your better qualities with a potential employer. Which handful should you choose to list as your official references?

First, there are brought categories to consider. You can narrow your focus to a few groups best positioned to provide information that a company would listen to while making a hiring decision. Here are some folks you should consider:

  • Your Direct Supervisors
  • Coworkers
  • Business Partners
  • Direct Reports

Sometimes, you’ll run short of people in these groups. For instance, if you’re just starting out in the workforce or have taken time away from your career, you might not have a long list of professional references.

As you build your career, SmartTalent can help you build out your web of contacts. You’ll gain experience and connections by nurturing relationships with top employers. Partner with SmartTalent to jumpstart your career and expand your list of potential references.

While you increase your potential pool of professional contacts, there are still people you can turn to when you need a reference. Here are a few categories to consider if you don’t have a huge choice for professional contacts:

  • Teachers/Professors
  • Coaches
  • Supervisors/Coworkers at Part-Time Jobs/Internships

How to Select the Ideal References

Now that you’ve narrowed your field of potential references, it’s time to choose the exact individuals you want to approach. Here are a few tips to determine the ideal people to ask:

Stick to Professional References

Yes, your best friend or your mom probably knows you best. But, no, they don’t make a good reference. (Unless you worked with them extensively on a professional project — but even then, potential employers probably won’t see them as credible sources of objective information.)

Focus on People Who Know You Well

You interned one summer at Facebook. That doesn’t mean Mark Zuckerberg should show up as a reference when you’re looking for your next job.

A powerful CEO might seem like an impressive name to include on a reference list. However, they likely won’t improve your chances of getting hired if you didn’t work with them directly. Instead, aim for people who have firsthand knowledge of your contribution and your work habits.

Give Preference to More Recent Positions

As your career progresses, you’ll accumulate more possible references. Employers have a “what have you done for me lately” mentality when it comes to job experience. They want to hear about your latest accomplishments and your current ability to provide value. As such, tilt your reference choices to your more recent work history.

Try to Emphasize Different Facets of Your Skill Set

While you want to focus on your recent experience, it’s still good to give a well-rounded picture of your abilities. You’ll likely provide multiple references — three to five is generally the standard. As such, select individuals who can give different perspectives on your best qualities.

If you spent time as a sales manager, include your supervisor to sing your praises as a salesperson. However, round this out by also naming one of the best members of your team. They can describe how you excelled as a boss.

Once you have your list of references, you still need to find the ideal employer. SmartTalent can put you on the right track. You’ll get the experience and industry insight you need to push your career forward.

Contact SmartTalent today to find your next opportunity.