Professional Vs. Personal Reference


Professional and personal references can help support the image you want to project when interviewing for jobs. Your references can attest to your skills or character and can back up the information on your resume. Professional and personal references are often required on job applications and should be listed on a separate page from your resume. Be prepared to provide your references when you go on an interview.

Professional References

  • Professional references are people who have worked with you or have supervised your work and can vouch for your ability to do the job. They can also attest to your work ethic, dependability, punctuality, honesty and other virtues employers seek. These references are most often asked for on job applications. Provide the person's full name, complete title, company name, address, telephone number and company email, if available.

Personal References

  • Personal references can attest to the quality of your overall character. Examples of personal references include pastors or other religious leaders, a contact person at a charity at which you volunteer, a longtime landlord or a professor whose class you have taken. Personal references are more important when you are looking for your first job or seeking a position of trust, such as foster-parenting. Choose people respected in the community. Provide your reference's full name, complete title, company name, address, telephone number and company email, if available.

Family Members

  • Some job applications specifically instruct you not to use family members as any type of reference, and the practice is generally discouraged. The only exclusion to this rule might be your previous employment in a family business or if you are applying for other types of positions, such as foster parenting or adoption.

Ask Before Listing

  • However you classify your references, it is imperative that you ask their permission first before providing their names and contact information. It is also helpful to give each of them some information as to the type of job you are seeking so that they may give appropriate feedback to any reference checker. When you do obtain the position you have sought, handwrite all your references a personal thank-you note.

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