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Who Should You Use as a Reference on Your Next Job Application?

March 16th, 2018

Landing a new job takes more than a strong resume and a great interview performance. It also takes a solid list of references that employers can contact to verify things like past employment dates, skills and job responsibilities.

But, as leading the staffing experts in Columbia, SC, TRUE Group knows that not all references are created equal. So, who should you use as a reference in your next job search, all to make the best impression possible? Here’s what you need to now:

Bosses and managers.

When it comes to references, bosses and managers carry the most weight. Hiring managers want to know whether there were any issues with your performance, or whether you were terminated or left on your own. A boss can answer these and other questions. Some other areas a potential employer will likely ask about include work ethic and attitude.

Typically, most hiring managers will ask for several references. Make sure most of them are from past bosses and managers. Other references can certainly make the case for you. However, if you only include one manager – or don’t include any at all – a hiring manager will be left to wonder why not.


Next in line in terms of order of importance should be co-workers. Your current and past colleagues can really speak to what it’s like to work with you, your attitude and how you handled different workplace challenges. They too will likely field questions related to your soft skills and personality.

Supervisor from a volunteer experience.

All your references don’t have to be at jobs where you were paid. If you have a lengthy history of volunteering with a local nonprofit or community organization, your manager and fellow volunteers there can also serve as references. Not only will they be able to discuss what it’s like to work with you, but the fact you have a lot of volunteer experience will paint you in a positive light in the mind of a hiring manager.

Professors or teachers.

As experienced headhunters in Columbia, SC, we’re often asked who new graduates and entry-level employees should list as references. If you’re in this situation, consider using a professor or a teacher. Just because you didn’t work for them doesn’t mean they can’t speak to your character, as well as your work ethic, attitude and leadership abilities. If you do list a professor as a reference, make sure it’s one you’re close with, not just a random one who barely knows you.


The only time to include friends as references is if the employer is asking for a character reference; then it’s perfectly acceptable because it’s often in addition to professional references. Just make sure the friends you do choose can speak positively and in a professional way about you.

Need help with this or another job search-related issue?

Check out TRUE Group’s blog for a variety of tips, insight and advice on finding and securing your next job opportunity. If you’d like more hands-on help with the process, call in our team of Columbia, SC headhunters. We will get to know your background, skill set and career goals, all so we can connect you with the best-fit jobs in and around Columbia. To learn more, simply contact us today.

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