/ Asked by Tanya
What types of references are most effective?
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, July 8, 2016
The most effective references are ones who can speak directly to your performance.  These are typically past or current supervisors or teachers, and to a lesser degree, co-workers.  Someone who is a friend, for example, who has not actually observed you in a formal work or school environment, will not be effective or considered relevant by the potential employer, as they can speak to your character, but not your performance.  When a potential employer is checking references, they are wanting to find out about the quality and quantity of your work with other employers and how you fit in with your team and the work culture.  Therefore, it is important that you provide these types of references.  It is also important that you provide a 'heads-up' to your references that you are using them.  This way they will not be caught off guard and will be more prepared to speak about you in a positive light.
Answered by Gigi, Hiring Expert at ADP, on Monday, July 11, 2016
You want the people who will make the strongest recommendations for you. Former supervisors do not have to be references, especially if they did not know all your accomplishments or you fear they will not have glowing things to say about you. Sometimes former co-workers, or supervisors in other departments who know your work, make the best choices. Again, the key is people who know your strengths and abilities and who will say positive things about you.
Overall, you ideally want about three to five references – people who can speak highly of your accomplishments, work ethic, skills, education, performance, etc. For experienced job-seekers, most references should come from previous supervisors and co-workers whom you worked closely with in the past, though you may also choose to list an educational (mentor) or personal (character) reference. College students and recent grads have a little more flexibility, but ideally you should have several references from internships or volunteer work in addition to professors and personal references. Avoid listing family members; clergy or friends are okay for personal references. Former coaches, vendors, customers, and business acquaintances are also acceptable.
Answered by Lori, Hiring Expert at Cigna, on Thursday, July 14, 2016
Great question! It is important to have solid references when you are going through the job search process. It is great to target between 3-5 references but if you have more or less, it is OK, as long as they are solid references. What I mean by "solid" references, is that these are people who can truly vouch for your educational, work, and/or volunteer experience. Think of people who can speak to your strengths and accomplishments based on their first-hand experience with you. If you are still in school, think of professors where you may have gotten an opportunity to speak with them 1:1, or that you worked on a project with. If you have internship, co-op, or full time work experience, ask someone who you've worked closely with and can speak of things you helped out with.  If there are people from the community you volunteered on events or charity work, ask them. Not all employers use references, but always having them available, and knowing that they support what you are telling interviewers about yourself is key. Good luck! 
Answered by Traci, Hiring Expert at Accenture, on Monday, August 8, 2016
I guess that all depends on what type are being requested and what kind of experiences you have had to draw references from. In terms of being effective, anyone who is able to speak about you and to give the person requesting a picture of how you live, work, and interact will suffice. Think about past employers who are able to lend a good word about your work ethic. Think about the professor who can do the same. Maybe the person requesting would also like a personal reference, and in that case, someone who can speak of your character. At the end of the day, references are people who can lend some additional information about a person that is most likely toward the finish line in a hiring process anyway. Think about a person who will be able to tell the hiring manager or the recruiter something they don’t already know, and it doesn’t hurt for that person to add something positive.
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