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References Job Applications

Many employers prefer work references. If your work references are all from another country, you might include at least one on your list as long as they are comfortable to speak in English, are accessible through email or Skype, and have some understanding of the position you are applying for.

references job applications


If possible, you should choose someone who has supervised you professionally or who has worked closely with you. A manager, supervisor or even a co-worker from a casual job may be able to speak to your work habits or transferable skills (the skills that you can take from one job to another). They can say, for example, that you are reliable, friendly, organized, and a good problem solver. Other references could include someone who is aware of your work habits or skills through your volunteer or community work.

Academic references are also acceptable and may even be preferable, depending on the situation. If you have been to school recently in Canada, consider asking your teacher to be a reference for you, particularly if you think they can speak positively about your skills and character.

Character references can substitute for work references if there are no other alternatives. They can be friends, a landlord, clients or anyone who can speak to your good personal qualities such as your honesty, dependability, good nature, etc. If they have firsthand knowledge of your work skills, that is even more useful. Close relatives are not generally acceptable references and neither are people who do not know you well.

You may not want to include references from areas of your life you prefer to keep private or that may conflict with your interviewer's values. For example, personal counsellors, therapists, religious leaders or leaders of political or military parties in your home country may not always be appropriate references.

If you still do not have enough references, you may want to consider taking a course in your field of interest. If you participate in class and make a good impression, the teacher or other program staff may be willing to act as a reference for you. Volunteering is also a good way to develop references. However, some organizations do not provide references for volunteers, so it is a good idea to check what the policy is.

You should ask someone if they will be a reference for you before you give their name to a potential employer. If they agree, let them know what job you are applying for, how you are qualified, and give them a copy of your résumé. For academic references, it can be useful to remind teachers about your projects or grades.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to choose a reference and what contact information you'll need to get from each of them. In addition, we'll show you how to write and format a list of references to give to potential employers.

When it comes to references, choosing the right person is often just as important as the reference itself. The best candidates are people who are familiar with your talents, skills, and performance in the workplace. Alternatively, you can choose someone who isn't familiar with your work but who can speak to other important qualities you may have, such as honesty, dependability, creativity, or strength of character.

You should keep the need for references in mind throughout your career, not just when you're applying for a new job. If you take the time to build relationships and consistently use networking strategies, you'll have plenty of candidates to choose from. To learn more about networking, visit Networking Basics in our Job Search and Networking tutorial.

Because your list contains your references' personal information, it's common practice NOT to give your references to potential employers unless you are asked. Employers may ask for your references during or after an interview, or when you are completing an application.

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