Before you begin sending out resumes, selecting and contacting your references is top priority. Not having referees available could slow down a job offer.

A job reference is a guarantee that you can complete a role by someone who can vouch for your character and ability. Job references are usually requested by hiring organisations.

The reference could be provided over the phone, via email or by letter. Usually most companies will require about two or three references before making you an official offer.

In planning your job search, four referees may be ideal to have for good measure. This will cover in the event that an individual is not available at the time that you require the reference. Friends and family should never be used as job references.

Who Can You Use As A Job Reference

The following are 6 groups of persons that you can consider as potential job references:

  • Former manager
  • Former colleague
  • Teacher
  • Mentor
  • Persons of influence
  • Stakeholders

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Former manager

This is possibly one the best references that you can have. A previous manager can speak to your work ethics and has full knowledge of their experiences working with you.

A manager especially one who you have worked with for a considerable period of time is a valuable reference.

Former colleague

A former colleague could be a reference that you can use as they can share their peer to peer experience working with you. 

Working with other persons especially those that are on the same level as you is necessary in every field. Having a colleague who can vouch that their experience with you was positive is a solid testimonial.


A teacher can be a reference especially for recent graduates who are seeking their first job. A teacher understands your capacity and your ability.  

The teacher can speak to your participation in class, your personality as well as how you worked along with others on group projects.


A mentor can confidently speak about your strengths and weaknesses. This makes a mentor a fantastic job reference option.

 Persons of influence

Persons who are reputable in your community could be another option as a job reference. For example, the pastor of your church could be a job reference. If you are a member of the Rotary Club for several years, then the president could be a reference.

A Government Minister or a director of the chamber of commerce can be sources of a job reference. Therefore, examine your extra curricula activities to explore whether there are persons in this group that you can tap into as job references.


Consider using other stakeholders as possible source of job reference.  For example, if you are an entrepreneur and you have worked consistently with a client, then that client could provide a job reference.

In addition, if you held a role as a corporate customer service representative then one of your clients may be able to provide you with a job reference.

These references can be effective as they give can give tangible feedback of their experience working with you.

There are several other articles on this blog on job search which you may find valuable. Feel free to click any of the links below to explore:-

What are Good Job Benefits

7 Factors To Consider When Evaluating A Job Offer

How To Stay Positive During Job Search

How To Prepare For Job Search If You’re Relocating

How To Prepare For A Job Search

10 Top Personality Traits To Put On Your Resume

How To Write A Resume When You Have No Job Experience

How To Write A Resume

How To Write A Cover Letter

How To Prepare For A Job Fair

Final Thoughts

Choose your job references wisely as these individuals need to convince recruiters beyond the shadow of doubt that you are ideal for the role. Remember that friends and family members should never be used as job references.

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Groups of Persons Who You Can Use As Job Reference

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