References are one of the most important factors in your job search. Potential employers don’t usually call your references until the very end. When they’ve seen your resume and interviewed you and they think you’re the one, then they’ll want to call your references to make sure
First, a little about how reference checks work. Potential employers will want to talk to people who have worked with you. At least one of your references should be somebody that you reported to directly (a former boss). Others can be co-workers, people from other companies who interacted with you at work, even clients. It’s okay to include a personal reference too. This may be someone who knows you personally but hasn’t worked with you.
If you’re currently employed, you probably don’t want your current employer to know that you’re looking for a job. Your new potential employer will understand if you don’t give them permission to call your current supervisor. But you do need people who have worked can speak to your work performance. You could give the name of your supervisor and others from your previous job. If there is someone who worked with you at your current employer but has now left the company, that could be a good resource. If you’ve done any volunteer work, someone there could provide a reference.
If you are not currently employed and you don’t provide the name and number of your most recent supervisor, your potential employer will wonder why.
Most companies have policies against giving references. That’s because if they say something negative about a former employee, they could be sued. If you give your potential employer the name and number of the HR person from a former job, that person will likely only confirm that you worked for them and when.
Ask people if they will give you a reference. If they say no, or cite the company policy, don’t give their name as a reference. If they were so enthusiastic about you that they would give a glowing report, they would have said yes. Be very careful about asking anyone associated with your current job. Word might get back to your employer. You could also damage your employer’s position by tipping your hand to the wrong person. For example, you are an account rep serving an important client. If you leave, your employer will want to position it carefully it a way that makes their clients feel that their needs are still going to be taken care of. If you ask that client for a reference, you leave your company is an awkward spot.
Leave on spectacular terms. Do not put your employer in a difficult position when you depart. Give two weeks notice and come to work every day during those two weeks. Do everything you can so that the next person can pick up your job easily. Even if you’re not pleased with your current employer, you should do these things because you’ll need them to give you great references the next time you look for a job.