How Personal and Professional References Differ From Each Other

You probably know that if you’re job hunting, you’re going to need to come up with some individuals who you can give for references. You might think about using an old friend, a teacher, a religious figure in your life, or an old boss or coworker.

However, you should know that some jobs require you to give personal and professional references. We’ll ensure you understand the difference between them in the following article.

What is a Professional Reference?

34% of senior managers don’t hire following a reference check. That means approximately one out of every three times, that individual won’t proceed any further in the hiring process after they check in with the person or people to whom you told them to speak.

Those senior managers might not necessarily disqualify you from the hiring process right after they speak to your references. There’s no doubt this step plays an essential part in the proceedings, though, so you should think carefully before you come up with some names.

Almost every job will need at least a couple of professional references. Usually, whoever’s doing the hiring will want to talk to an old coworker or boss. This person worked with you before, so they’re uniquely suited to speak about what you bring to the table in a professional setting.

How About a Personal Reference?

A personal reference knows you but has not worked with you. That’s the main distinction, and you have a lot more leeway to choose a personal reference because you can go in many different directions. However, you should choose the names only after some deliberation.

For instance, if you do any volunteer work, you might give a person’s name who runs the soup kitchen or homeless shelter where you’ve put in some hours. They can speak about your character and temperament.

You might use a college professor or a high school teacher as a personal reference. You may put down a classmate’s name or use an old childhood friend with whom you’ve remained in contact.

You can also use a relative, but this might not work as well. You’d think that a parent, sibling, or cousin would say great things about you, but they’re not exactly impartial. In fact, some jobs will deliberately ask you not to use a relative because they feel they can’t trust someone who’s a blood relation.

Use Personal and Professional References Who Will Help You the Most

Basically, a professional reference has worked with you, while a personal reference has not. If you’re applying for a job and you’ve never worked anywhere else, you can’t give any professional references. You’ll just have to hope the hiring manager or whoever else will make the final decision understands that.

When you look at personal and professional references, and you choose someone’s name and phone number to give the hiring manager, you should think about how this person will depict you. You don’t want to use an old friend who will immediately launch into a story about some dubious misadventure they had with you as a teenager.

You need only personal or professional references that can portray you in the best possible light. You want them to tell the truth about you, but you also need someone who’s both tactful and selective. They should know to only talk about your best qualities. They can either ignore or downplay any weaknesses.

It’s also helpful to contact your personal and professional references and tell them you gave them to a hiring manager as a reference. They’ll know that this person might reach out to them, and they’ll think in advance about how they might answer questions about you. They may come up with some qualities they’ll mention that will highlight what you can do for this company.

You don’t necessarily need to coach your references beforehand regarding how they should answer, but you can still give them a little pep talk if you’d like. Remember that if they say something off-color about you, that might cost you the job.

As long as you haven’t done anything too egregious in your life, your references should have nice things to say about what you can do for this company. They will bolster your chances of getting the position, and you can thank them appropriately.

Try to think of both professional and personal references who you can use before you start job hunting because you’ll certainly need to have some names handy.

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