Job search

With references and recommendations to your dream job

Are you looking for a new professional challenge? References and recommendations can help you find your dream job: Potential employers learn more about you and why you are the right candidate for the open position with the help of recommendations.

Learn here how you as an applicant can best submit your references and what you should consider in your reference strategy.

What are letters of reference and recommendation?

More and more companies are doing without a cover letter and only require a resume during the application process. But this says little about you as a person and your way of working - references and recommendations, on the other hand, do. These can be in written form or verbally. Former employers, superiors or colleagues are particularly suitable as references, as they can provide evidence of your qualifications and strengths. It is important that references are honest and accurately describe your skills.

In comparison, letters of recommendation are similar to references, but in some ways even more specific. They are usually written by someone who knows you personally well, for example, was your supervisor or was involved in projects where you had to prove your abilities. The letter of recommendation should describe and evaluate your accomplishments, skills, and character traits. These insights are very useful for potential employers and help avoid unnecessary interviews on both sides.

Why are references and recommendations important?

References and recommendations are there to convey a positive image of you and thus increase your job chances. A personal recommendation conveys better than any resume what skills you bring to the table, what makes you tick as a person, and why you are perfect for the open position.

In addition to his or her own impression of your application, the recruiter receives the perspective of third parties with letters of reference or recommendation. This makes your application more authentic and increases the chance of finding the right job. Providing references and recommendations helps you stand out from the competition in the job search.

How are references and recommendations provided on the application?

References can be attached to the application in the form of written confirmation from a previous employer, similar to a job reference. If possible, attach letters of reference that demonstrate your qualifications for the job and that have a more recent date. After 20 years of work experience, a reference letter for the most recent internship is no longer meaningful.

Instead of a written document, you also have the option of naming two to three contacts as references in your application. This way has a great advantage for the reference givers, because there is less effort and you still benefit from valuable recommendations. Your potential new employer will then contact these references if they are interested and talk to them about you. The conversation between the recruiter and the reference person thus constitutes the recommendation.

By the way, another easy option for references is your LinkedIn profile. You can ask your contacts there for a recommendation in the form of short texts. You receive the recommendation in advance for viewing and can decide whether you want to make it visible on your personal profile. You can also refer to these references in your application, either in the cover letter or in the resume under a separate item.

This is what you should look for in references

Not everyone you know will lend themselves as a reference. When looking for suitable references, you should consider the following points:

  1. Your reference should have worked with you for a few years to be able to describe your work style and behavior while on the job.
  2. Your reference should know your strengths, be able to talk about them in detail and praise you credibly. After all, a positive image of you as an applicant should be conveyed.
  3. Your designated contacts should be former supervisors, external customers or work colleagues.
  4. Make sure the references provided are relevant to the position you are applying for and have the appropriate thing to say.
  5. Be sure to verify the accuracy of contact information and obtain consent if you name individuals as references in your application.
  6. Inform your reference about the job in advance. This includes the company name, the function, the importance of the job and other relevant information that will help your contact communicate with the potential employer.

Would you like to include a letter of recommendation with your application? We have provided a sample reference letter template for you to download free of charge here:

Reference Letter Template (PDF)

We wish you every success in your job search!

Onyx Circle

At Onyx Circle, we bring qualified candidates together with companies that are shaping the future together in a meaningful way. Our focus is always on the individual as a whole. As a specialized recruitment consultancy based in Zurich, we have developed into a competent partner for permanent vacancies in the areas of Construction & Real Estate, Engineering & Manufacturing, Finance & Controlling, HR & Administration and SAP & IT. With our dedicated team, we guarantee a first-class service, progressive recruiting approaches and absolute discretion.