A fresh grad’s dilemma: “Who can I use as a reference for my first job?”

A fresh grad’s dilemma: “Who can I use as a reference for my first job?”
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 13 April, 2022

As a fresh graduate, your most challenging task will be convincing potential employers that you have what it takes to get the job done. While experienced candidates can demonstrate their value through their professional track record and testimonials by former employers and co-workers, fresh graduates are naturally at a disadvantage due to their limited professional experience and network. It is indeed a dilemma and you might have your asked yourself or a loved one this question: Who can I use as a reference for my first job ?”

That said, there are a number of people with professional credibility who can vouch for your character, integrity and intelligence. Here are a few of them:

1. University professors

They’ve had the chance to observe and evaluate your reliability, intelligence and personal characteristics throughout the term of your studies.

Naturally you’ll want to approach the professors you have rapport with for a professional reference. It’s in the university’s best interest to help their graduates secure employment to maintain their positive ratings, so most likely your chosen professors would be more than happy to help you out.

2. Thesis adviser

If your studies involved completing a thesis, your thesis adviser would be an excellent person to ask for a professional reference.

Not only would he or she have spent considerable time working closely with you, but being a thesis adviser means he or she is a fairly experienced academic, which adds more weight and credibility to their recommendations.

3. Heads of varsity teams or student organizations

Here’s another reason to be active in extracurricular activities in college: besides the opportunity to develop your athletic, social and leadership skills, it’s also an opportunity to establish rapport with the heads of these clubs, whom you can approach to be professional referees when you graduate.

4. Internship supervisor

Besides the practical work experience, internships are a valuable way to build professional contacts.

The supervisor you reported to as an intern is one of the best people to ask for a professional reference, as he or she will have had the opportunity to observe your work ethics and competence level.

5. Volunteer manager

Likewise here, if you participated in any voluntary positions during your studies, your volunteer manager would be a valuable professional referee to vouch for your strengths as a team player and the different ways you contributed to the organization.

6. Bosses and co-workers at part-time jobs

It doesn’t matter what part-time jobs you’ve done in the past: waiter/waitress, pizza delivery person, administrative work, retail sales, etc. Each of those jobs would have involved working with other people, as such you have several choices to pick from for your professional reference.

“But what about my barangay captain or maybe my pastor – can I put them down as my references?”

Yes, you may but only if you’ve actually worked for them, whether paid or voluntarily. Though it’s pretty common for Filipinos to pick prominent members in their community as their character reference, the reality is their endorsement may not count for much at all. Not unless you’ve actually had extensive experience working alongside them, or you’ve been involved in some of their projects or initiatives in the community, otherwise it’s best to keep them off your list of choices.

Just make sure you ask for permission in advance before providing potential employers with your references’ name and contact details. Most people will be more than happy to help out, especially if you got along well with them.

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