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Types of References

Reference Requests, Referrals, Recommendations, Reference Pages


When you are seeking employment, the type of references you will need varies depending on the employer.  You may need a reference from a former employer, a list of references the employer can contact, personal references, professional references, a formal recommendation letter, or a referral. 

Here's information on the various types of references, how to request a reference and how to provide references upon request.

Employment References

Magnifying glass on white piece of paper
Kevin Summers / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images
At some point during your job search, a potential employer will request references. Typically, it will be when the company is seriously interested in you as a potential hire. Plan ahead and get your references in order, before you need them. Here's how.

Reference Lists

Copyright Alison Doyle

When you provide a list of references to an employer, you should include your name at the top of the page. Then list your references, including name, job title, company, and contact information, with a space between each reference. Here's more on creating a list of references.

Reference Requests

Copyright Alison Doyle

When you ask for reference, how you write your reference letter or email message request is important. You will want to give the person you're asking an out, in case they aren't comfortable giving you a positive recommendation. It's important to make sure that the individual who is recommending you for employment can give you not just a reference, but a good reference.  Here's how to request references, plus letters and emails for different types of reference requests.

LinkedIn Recommendations

Copyright LinkedIn
Having a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile is getting a reference in advance - before you need it. That's because when prospective employers check you on LinkedIn, they'll be able to read those recommendations. Here's advice on how to get LinkedIn recommendations, who to ask for references, and how to manage the recommendations you've received.


Copyright H-Gall
Most employers take a close look at candidates who are referred to them. A referral for a job from a company employee or another connection at the company is an advance referrance that can help ensure your resume gets a close look. Here's how to ask for a job referral, who to ask for a referral, plus sample referral request letters.

Professional References

Copyright Jacob Wackerhausen

When you're job searching, seeking a promotion, growing your career, or expanding your business it is important to have professional references who can vouch for your abilities. Here's information on who to ask to provide a professional reference, how to ask for a reference, and sample reference letters and lists.

Personal References

Copyright Getty Images Paul Burns

A personal reference, also known as a character reference, is a reference provided by an individual who knows you and can vouch for your character and abilities. Neighbors and acquaintances may be willing to write a reference for you. Business acquaintances, teachers, professors or academic advisors, volunteer leaders, coaches, can all provide a personal reference.

Recommendation Letter Samples

Image Copyright Elena Aliaga

Revivew letter of recommendation samples and templates, including recommendation letters for employment, academic letters of recommendation and character / personal letters of recommendation.  There are a variety of recommendation samples including examples of written and email letters of recommendations.

Reference Letter Examples

Copyright Ryan Fox

Whether you are writing a reference or requesting references, it's always helpful to look as examples of different types of reference letters.  Here are sample reference checks, character, reference and recommendation letters, sample recommendation letters, using references, background checks and related resources.

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