References are arguably the most underrated part of any technology job search effort. Many times when companies are trying to decide between two equal candidates, a reference check helps make that final hiring decision. They are also an important part of vetting a candidate’s work history and technical skills.
So when crafting your technical résumé, what are the best practices for choosing who to include as a reference? At the same time, it helps to understand who needs to be left off your CV. Let’s take a closer look at this important topic in anyone’s job search.
Former Managers Make Great References
Not surprisingly, former bosses serve as highly appropriate job references. Try to use one or two where the work and technology stack are similar to the position for which you are applying. This approach allows a former manager to offer keen insights on how you might perform with the organization looking for talent.
Of course, you need to reach out to any former manager before you include them as a reference. It’s a common professional courtesy helping to ensure they provide a positive opinion – assuming you were an exemplary worker.
A Professional Colleague Also Works as a Reference
A fellow tech professional who you closely worked with is another great option as a reference. Once again, try to pick someone whose skills and experience match what the company in question wants in a candidate. Doing so helps the reference provide examples of your work that parallel similar project activity at that company. It just might make them feel more comfortable choosing you as their perfect candidate.
Professors are a Good Choice For Emerging Tech Professionals
If you are a fresh graduate just beginning your IT career with minimal experience, consider reaching out to a former professor as a reference. Choosing someone with a technology specialization helps them provide opinions on your technical acumen and the ability to quickly learn things. Again – contact the professor before including them as a reference.
Friends or Family Aren’t Good References
Never include a friend or a family member as a reference, even if they boast a technical background similar to yours. Companies simply don’t trust the quality of these references; assuming there is some bias involved. Stick to professional or educational colleagues.
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