Who should be your reference?

“References available upon request” is a polite way of letting potential employers know that you have people who can vouch for you.

But what happens when they actually request them?

Do you know who they should request a referral from?

If you don’t know just yet, then you’re in luck! Because today, we’re going to review the best references you can give your recruiter!

Pro Tip:

Before providing the contact information for any of your references, you should always ask your reference for permission.

Not doing so can cause multiple problems.

First, they may not be available when the recruiter calls.

Second, they might be caught off guard and give a negative answer because they are disturbed by the call.

Third, they might not know what to say to paint you in the best light.

And finally, you may not have their current contact information.

By simply checking with them in advance, you can prepare the way so they share the best of what they have to say!

Former Bosses

Who would be better to tell your new boss how great you are than an old boss?

This is usually the most ideal reference. Especially if that former supervisor, manager, or owner works in the same industry, or you’re applying for a similar position.

Be wary, though. If you still haven’t quit, then your boss might not take kindly to learning about your intentions this way. And it could affect both your current job, as well as your current job application.

Former Colleagues

Perhaps your old supervisor no longer works for your old company. Or maybe you worked more closely with teammates instead of management.

If that’s the case, your colleagues are another great option for references!

Your colleagues will also often have a better understanding of the small details of the projects you worked on. They can inform your recruiter about your proficiency at specific tasks, not just your overall performance.

They also know what it’s like to work closely with you, so they can speak to your soft skills and the type of culture you foster with your team.

Teachers and Mentors

Improving ourselves takes work. So the people who guide us while we do it can say a lot about our work ethic!

Teachers and professors are a great resource for references when you have little to no work experience, too. If you’re a recent graduate, they might be a better reference than a boss or colleagues from any job that was only part-time, or not in your field.

Mentors outside of a formal education program are also a great help! If you have had tutors, or if you’ve apprenticed for someone, or even if you just have an industry expert who regularly meets to discuss your progress, then they know exactly how much you’re willing to go above and beyond!

Authority Figures

Sometimes we work under people who aren’t necessarily our boss or teachers.

This could be someone like your supervisor at a volunteer event, a coach for a sports team, or the leader at a hobby group.

As long as your experience with them is relevant to the job requirements, they can be a great match — and a great option if you don’t have more career-related references.

Family Members

Finally, if you are out of other options, or need to give a personal reference, then you can always rely on family!

The key here, though, is to choose someone who has something to say about your professional behaviour.

Perhaps it’s a family member who you helped by doing chores, or helped them in their yard. Or maybe you took care of someone when they were ill. Or maybe you watched their kids when they had an emergency.

Your potential employer doesn’t want to just know that your family loves you, they want to know that they love the work you do, too!


Did you know that META could be your reference, too?

We work with both job seekers and employers to build relationships they can rely on. Not only can we connect you with employers that have proven they provide good opportunities, but we can also vouch for you and the skills you’re working on!

To learn more about skill building and employment opportunities, book your free one-on-one appointment with us today!

Belleville Office

Unit 8, 161 Bridge Street W. 
Belleville, ON K8P 1K2

Phone: 613-966-9069
Toll Free: 1-888-401-9636
Fax: 613-966-7357

Bancroft Office

Unit 3 124 Hastings St. N
Bancroft ON

Toll Free: 1-888-401-9636
Fax: 1-866-705-4520