If you’re looking for jobs in the city of Chicago, be prepared to produce a reference list. During the interview process, hiring managers only see a certain side of you, so speaking to those who have worked with you in the past offers a well-rounded view of your skills and personality.

References have the power to make or break your chances of getting the job, so the selection process must be taken very seriously. You can’t control what those speaking on behalf you actually say, but you can increase your chances of getting a glowing review by thinking twice about who you add to your reference list.

Four Tips to Select the Best References

Keep It Professional

Your loved ones will do anything for you, so if you asked your spouse, parent or best friend to be a reference, they’d say yes in a heartbeat. The problem is, a glowing review from someone in your personal life doesn’t hold much — or really any — weight in the business world. Unless you’re specifically asked to provide a personal reference, always default to people you know on a professional level — i.e., former bosses, colleagues, clients or professors.

Be Selective

Having a former manager on your reference list will look great on paper, but if the two of you didn’t have the best relationship, you can’t trust them to say nice things about you. It’s much better to choose someone with a lower rank who can speak to your work and truly likes you, because they’ll give the kind of review that will get you hired.

Choose Someone Reliable

Hiring managers request a reference list because they want to speak with people from your professional past. If you know someone you’d like to use as a reference is notoriously flakey or otherwise impossible to get in touch with, don’t use them. They might have the nicest things to say about you, but if your potential new employer can’t ahold of them, it will reflect poorly on you.

Ask Permission

Never put someone on your reference list until they agree to take on this duty. Not only is it rude to hand out another person’s contact information without their permission, it also means they’ll be unprepared when your potential employer calls. This won’t win you any points and the person probably won’t have the best responses to offer, because they’ll be caught off guard.

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