How To Secure Strong References Who Will Help You Land The Job

The old saying remains true today: it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.

These days is not as simple as applying a job post online, finger crossed and hope for the best. The job market has become competitive and challenging. Many times, companies and hiring managers prefer to hire people with proven records and able to bring immediate results on the table rather than to risk hiring someone unknown.

Heck, if the hiring budget allows it, they might even poach someone from a competing company. Unethical, I know but it save time and money to hunt down the right candidate.


What are strong references?

At the risk of sounding like a promotion for nepotism, the candidate with the best references will probably get the job. Strong references allude to a boss, manager, supervisor, teacher, mentor, or colleague.

The better the professional reputation of these persons, the better your reference list looks. Today, most recruiters will also look at Facebook profiles – both yours and those of your references. Look first yourself, and decide whether the reference you have in mind will make a favorable impression or not.

While it could be awkward to ask for a reference from any of these while you are still lining up potential future jobs, the ones who truly have your well-being at heart would not hesitate to supply you with a reference. Now is of course too late to build up good relationships with these people, this is something you should have been doing from day one.

How to secure strong references

The first requirement for securing a future strong reference is thus to work at it all the time. The tenets are time-honored: don’t be late for work, meetings or appointments; always accept work and orders with grace; when the need arises argue respectfully but firmly; speak politely and civilly; dress appropriately to the job you are doing, and all the other things that you may think are old-fashioned. Most companies still look for these values when hiring and firing, regardless of contemporary views.

What to ask for

Do not ask for a “good” or “positive” reference. Ask for an honest one. Recruiters do not believe glowing reports of a person that apparently never did anything wrong and have no weak points. Ask to be presented in a true light.


How to ask

Ask your reference personally or with a phone call. Email, sms, and WhatsApp are not professional and deserve to be ignored. You cannot judge from the last three how your request is received. If there is any hesitation on the part of the reference, treat whatever they give you with circumspection or let them off the hook immediately. Remember, it is a favor they are doing you, they are not under any obligation to comply.

Whom to ask

Make sure that you ask a person whose reference will be appropriate to your relationship and applicable to the new job. No good asking the CEO of the company if he doesn’t know you from Adam. Don’t expect a colleague who worked in the administration department to be able to give a reliable reference for your skills as a quality manager. Use your common sense.

What if it’s your first job

Few companies are willing to give newbies their first job. The age-old lament of the job seeker is that everyone wants you to be experienced yet no-one wants to help you to get it. However, you can still obtain references from teachers and trainers who can highlight your potential. It could be possible to present examples from projects that you have completed during your education that have relevance to the job you are applying for.

In conclusion, use whatever you can and never talk yourself down! Do you have any advice to give to someone who is looking for references? Come and share with us in the comments below and your advice may just help someone here find their dream job.

For those who are on a job hunt, here are some of the articles you may have missed:

5 Sure-Fire Ways To Become the Job Candidate Recruiters Want to Poach

How To Choose Your 1st Job When You Graduate

Interview with a Recruiter


14 Comments Add yours

  1. foodzesty says:

    I have been searching for work for a while now..with a strong CV, yrs of experience and a couple of excellent ref. letter but no luck. I think nowadays its all about luck. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kally says:

      Not only all about luck but do expand your network around and you’ll increase your chances of meeting the right people in the industry that you wish to work in.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. foodzesty says:

        I do have a large network 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Chiru says:

    Asking referral is the most difficult task I ever did..
    Useful tips by the way to implement in searching…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you so much. Yes, it is pretty tough to ask someone for a reference.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully penned . Please do visit my blog post too if you like 😊🌸🌸


  4. marblenecltr says:

    As always, great instruction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thanks so much


  5. Once again practical, meaningful, applicable and prudent advice.

    Asking for references within the company you presently work for is RISKY. {Could get you terminated}. On the other hand if you have developed a solid working relationship with a Superior whom you can discuss your opportunities for advancement within THAT company; and find them to be either distant or none existent; THEN do ask that person if they CAN be used as a reference.

    Be SURE to continue to do quality work right up to the time you exit that position. {DON”T “Burn ANY Bridges.” }

    Thanks Kally, GREAT Post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you, Patrick. One thing that I constantly advice anyone is never to burn bridges. Unless of course, the other party is a complete jerk (I have encountered some in the past) then I’ll never want to associate with them, let alone get referrals from them.


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