Recommendations, References and Referrals

Recommendations, References and Referrals

Embrace these three R’s (recommendations, references, and referrals) in your career management. Doing so will bring high value and ROI for advancing your career.


An important ingredient in your LinkedIn profile is to have recommendations. Never leave this section blank. The perfect number of recommendations isn’t subjective; it should consist of five recommendations per job title, not per company. Yes, that sounds a bit daunting. And it can be challenging to meet this target as generally, it is not high on peoples’ agendas to recommend others in writing, especially on the internet. Who should these five recommendations be?

Number one, your boss or your boss’s boss, someone that you reported to. If you are a CEO, attempt to secure a recommendation from the Chair of the Board.

Number two, a peer, someone lateral to you. Ask a person you collaborated with at the same level who gained an understanding of your work ethics, practices, processes and ability to drive success.

Number three, an employee. Some employees may not wish to share their opinion of you. Ha! Ha! But others might have adored you and now miss you after your departure. Ask them for a recommendation.

Number four, a vendor/supplier. Seek out someone external to you or your company as a business partner and ensure that you had considerable interaction with them so that they can provide a detailed synopsis.

Number five, a client or customer. Again, some customers or clients might not want to recommend you. Chuckles! But, hopefully, some do. You can ask them to articulate how you helped them with their issues or requests.

Finally, if you have attended schooling, ask a classmate with whom you have been directly involved in projects or classwork to provide a recommendation.


“References Available Upon Request” were eliminated from a resume at least 15 years ago. It is automatically assumed that you will attend the interview or at least have a list of references readily available for distribution that a future employer interested in engaging you can call. Again, you should attempt to have five references who have interacted with you most recently, not someone from five, ten or fifteen years ago. They should include a boss or a leader, a peer (someone lateral to you), an employee, a vendor, and a client. Ensure that they are briefed that you are entering a job search and ask them to be a reference. Don’t surprise them as it can inhibit the conversation with the potential employer. Keep your references up-to-date with your job search and tell them if there is an impending request for them to speak about you. On the reference list highlight their name, company, position and title, relationship to you, contact phone number and email.

A word of advice, have someone else check these references out before you go to market to ensure they are providing a positive impression of you.

Recommendations, References and Referrals


Today, when advertised jobs are very slim, a referral can bring huge value to you as you conduct a job search. Executive recruiters are more inclined to open up conversation with you if you are introduced as a referral. What does an introduction to a career decision maker at a company where you would like to work do for you? It brings you a depth and breadth of value. Referrals are like gold. Treat them with respect because they have placed trust in you.

Don’t Forget The 3R’s (Recommendations, References and Referrals)

Related Articles:

Shopping Cart


Have your resume or CV reviewed by a Certified Resume Writer. 

No obligations!