How To Plan Your Job References Strategically? (With 2024 Relevant Examples)

Job References popularly known letters of recommendation are required for almost every new job you apply for nowadays. Employers ask you to submit your letter of recommendation with an application as it gives the employer a picture of who you are beyond what your resume and your CV tells. The employer wants to know about what is your performance, what is your ability to work as a team, what kind of learner are you, how fast you adapt to changes, how do you work under pressure, and so on from another person’s point of view.

How To Plan Your Job References Strategically

Job references are really important as

  1. It helps the employer determine if you are a good fit for the job or not.
  2. It helps in improving your ability to find a new job.
  3. Gives wider scope to analyze a candidate than a resume.
  4. It helps in expanding your network.
  5. It increases your chances of being hired for the job.

Here is when the need to strategically planning your job references arises. That is why the letter of recommendations nowadays are provided even by the employers who conduct internship programs because they know the importance of these job references and how helpful it is for one’s career.

As important as a letter of recommendation is, as important as it is to know that in order to build your image in front of a future employer, you need not fake a job reference by getting them from your close friends acting like your boss in the letter, or from your coworkers. Does the question arise that are these references cross-checked? Of course, thousand times yes, they are checked. If an employer does not check your job references, then it is a matter of questioning.

In case you fake a job reference, you can get in trouble as these references are verified by the employer. So, do not risk it as things will get extremely messy if even of your references gets caught off guard.

In this article, we will discuss how you can strategically plan your references keeping various factors in mind. So, let’s dive into the details.

When we talk about strategically planning something, we mean to focus on analytical skills, it means that we have to pay attention to small details, develop a plan and follow up that plan in a systematic manner.

List of Multiple Questions That an Employer May Ask Your Job Reference

Employers does their research about you by asking your former employers questions like-

  1. What duties were assigned to this candidate when he worked for your company?
  2. What position did the candidate hold in your company?
  3. Did the candidate mention any specific reason in the notice letter or while giving you the news of him resigning from your company?
  4. How long did he/she work for you?
  5. If got a chance, would you ever consider hiring him/her again in your company?
  6. Is the candidate qualified enough to work for our organization? Do you see potential in him for our job?
  7. What is the working style of the candidate?
  8. Is the candidate punctual?
  9. Did the candidate report to you directly?
  10. How was the candidate’s relationship with his superiors and subordinates?
  11. How did the candidate work in a team?

This is when an employer calls your former employer to ask for a reference and in most cases, the employers would want to talk to your references as the letter may also portray a false image of the candidate, but an honest conversation cannot. The potential employer will request references from you in the form of a letter or he can conduct a reference check himself. These questions can also be answered in the letter of recommendation that you can ask from the employer.

How to ask someone to be a reference?

First thing to learn here is that who can be a reference:

  1. Your manager
  2. Your supervisors from jobs or internships
  3. The people you have once supervised (to show your leadership skills)
  4. College professors: In case you have zero work history with no internships or jobs done in the past, you could include these references from college professors, counsellors, teachers, etc. you can also include the places you have volunteered at.

Remember to choose people who can measure your qualifications and achievements and explain it to your employer clearly.

The simple way to ask someone to be a reference is politely and professionally asking them, “Sir, you are aware working style and my capabilities, do you mind if I ask you to provide me with a reference or a letter of reference”. The person for whom you prove to be an asset, or a person who valued your work will never deny providing you with the reference.

Your references would need following information to give you a response:

  1. A copy of an updated resume/ A curriculum vitae.
  2. Cover letter
  3. Necessary information that you want them to add in the reference letter regarding the job you have applied for.
  4. Information about your job and the employer
  5. The deadline for submission date of the reference

Strategically Planning Job Reference

Contact your potential references

A part of planning your references strategically would be developing healthy relations with your references. You should have such a positive connection to them that makes you sure that the references would give all answers in your favor reflecting your key strengths, skills, and abilities.

Before applying for a job, consider a list of persons whom you think are the perfect references to present to your potential employer.

Pick 2-3 best references who are familiar with your future work, who have been your former managers or employers, your supervisors, or your professors.

Do not even think about considering your family or friends as your job reference as these sources are considered to be unreliable and irrelevant.

Your way of asking the person to be your reference should be professional enough. You cannot contact a potential reference and say, “We are on good terms and that’s why I want you to be one of my job references”. Ask them politely and professionally by saying, For Example:

“Sir, being my former manager, you have all the ideas about what is my working style, what are my key skills, what task am I good at, so I request you to be a reference for my future job”.

Or, “If you don’t mind, will you be able to provide me with a positive reference?”

An example of what a job reference list

[Your Name]

[Job Position]

[Company Name]


[E-mail id/ Contact number]

[City, State, Pin code]

Reference List

[Reference’s Name]


[Company Name]


[Contact Number/ E-mail]

[Your Relationship with the reference]

[Year of working with him]

Give employer this reference list only and only when he asks for it, to avoid any unnecessary detailing.

Provide your references with information

Provide your references with important information as discussed above. You should help your references as much as you can by having a conversation with them and explaining to them why you want that job and what will be your role in that job. Tell them why being hired is important to you. Ask them to highlight the key skills they see in you.

If you have asked for a letter of recommendation from your job references, you could help them with how they can write a letter of recommendation by sharing this article with them:

This article will help employer to thoroughly understand the format of the letter of recommendation.

Ask your references to write a letter of recommendation

Although mostly the potential employers themselves will contact the references you list before him following up with verbal communication, but it will be convenient for you to keep a hard copy in the form of a letter of recommendation from each of your references as these letters have their own significance.

A takeaway is that do not forget to express your gratitude to your employers. They own a special credit in your selection. Do not fail to understand how important job references are to the hiring process as they are responsible for portraying an image that reflects who you are and how you are in your workplace. Also, remember to avoid taking references from the people whom you are sure of that they will give you a negative reference may be due to some personal reasons, it will decrease your chances of being hired.


Keep in mind that the positive references can help you get that job offer but the negative ones can also zero your chances to get that job. So, plan your references strategically and make sure that you have a strong list of references of the people who know your strengths and skills and also about the job that you are applying for. Be ready to invest time and effort in the preparation of planning your references. Leave a comment below if you enjoyed reading this article. Do share this article with your friends.


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