When you are looking for a new job, it is practically a guarantee that you will need to provide the contact information for some career references. However, even if it is a certainty that you’ll be asked, figuring out who to include is a constant challenge.

Not every person you could list as career references is an appropriate choice. In fact, some could significantly hinder your efforts when you are trying to land a new role. If you are considered adding any of the people on the list below, here’s why you should think again.

A Boss Who Fired You

While this one may seem obvious to some professionals, not everyone appears to know it is a bad idea. Anyone who fired you isn’t a great choice for career references, mainly because they had a reason for terminating your employment, and it might not be in your best interest for the hiring manager to find out about the details of your firing.

Anyone with a Bad Reputation

When you list a person as a reference, you are asserting that there is a connection between you and them. If you provide contact details for someone who is known to have a bad attitude, performance issue, or a less than stellar reputation, you could be found guilty by association. Alternatively, the hiring manager may simply not give as much credence to what that person has to say as the hiring manager does not view them in a positive light.

A Purely Personal Reference

Yes, it’s true that your friends and family likely have amazing things to say about you. But, if you are a hiring manager, their input is the last thing you typically need from career references.

Instead, the hiring manager wants to talk to a reference that can discuss your professional capabilities, such as the skills you bring to the table. They rely on this firsthand knowledge to gain insight into how you perform on the job, and a personal reference can’t provide them with those kinds of details.

Now, listing a former classmate who worked with you on a large project in college may be acceptable as long as they can speak to your abilities and you are a recent graduate. Also, it’s important to note that supervisors and coworkers from a volunteer position can also be good additions. However, if you have any doubt whether a person is a smart addition to your reference list, then stick with current and former managers instead.

Someone You Lost Contact With

Anyone you haven’t spoken to in a few years shouldn’t be on your reference list, even if you did work incredibly closely together and they can attest to your capabilities. First, they probably can’t speak to your recent experience, and that is something the hiring manager would find more valuable. Second, you have no idea where they are in their professional lives or if they even remember you, and that creates an unnecessary amount of risk.

However, if you work to reconnect before you list them as a reference, that may be alright. Just make sure to rekindle the bond first and ask their permission.

The ideal reference should be able to thoroughly discuss your professional experience, especially in a recent position, and will have only positive things to say about you. If someone doesn’t fit that description, then consider listing someone else in their place.

If you are interested in learning more about creating a reference list, the team at TempStaff can help. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled team members today and see how our job search expertise can benefit you. Check out our newest Mississippi jobs here!


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