Selecting the right reference for an upcoming job interview may sound simple, but requires a bit of thought. Although a close friend may in fact be a great reference, you typically don’t pick professional references from a group of close friends. You choose someone who can give your work and ethics a fair and positive review from a perspective of authority on the subject, and is willing to do it as a professional favor or courtesy.
Select the Right References
Your reference should be someone with first-hand knowledge of your abilities and be in a position to express that knowledge from a professional point of view. This means your reference should be someone in a management position with a supervisory role over people with similar career paths as your own. Preferably, the more well known in the professional community your reference is, the stronger the referral will be.
You do need to consider the approach to use to ask permission from your potential reference. You are asking for a personal favor from a professional acquaintance, which definitely requires a bit of finesse. Not only is the reference doing a favor for you, but he is putting his name on the line with a career peer by suggesting you can do the job at hand. Further, he is doing this using his own personal time outside of his own job requirements. When asking for permission to use someone as a reference, it is imperative to ask what their boundaries are, when is okay to call to check in and share that information with your potential new employer.
It’s always nice to say, “Thank you,” after receiving a favor and this certainly applies after receiving a glowing recommendation that helps you land a new job. However, a cash gift could be construed as a conflict of interest and would generally be considered inappropriate. A nice gesture such as taking the reference out to lunch can be a show of appreciation in which you further get to discuss career paths and what choices are likely to lead to success with someone you obviously admire enough to ask for a reference.