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Interviewing and securing a new job can be difficult!
From resumes and cover letters to multi-stage job interviews, it may be overwhelming! But fret not, If you've been asked for references, it likely means that you're doing well and you're almost at the end.

Job references are essential when applying for a job, whether its for full-time work, part-time work or contracting. One of the most common questions we get asked, is who should I use as a referee?

Below is our guide to help you select the best references to include in your next application.

Firstly, what is a job reference?

Job references are referrals from people (referees) who know you well enough to vouch for your experience, skills, character, and work ethic. They may be co-workers, supervisors, friends, even lecturers or tutors (if you're a recent graduate). Typically,  job seekers require both professional and personal referees.

Professional referees include anybody who can vouch for your work. A good rule of thumb is to select someone who would be willing to refer you to their own clients or project teams/consultants. This might be prior employers, clients, managers, co-workers, or other connections who can verify your professional capabilities and achievements.

Recent graduates or job seekers who are new to the industry, may not have professional references, so a personal or character reference is a great alternative to provide, and often larger more established firms may require character references regardless. These can include friends, academic mentors, clubs, and others who can attest to your character.

Considerations for creating your list of referees:

  • Make a list of references before applying for a job. Don't wait to choose a reference!
  • Depending on your circumstances, professional referees are likely more significant than personal if you have extensive professional experience. If you're a recent graduate, returning to work after a period of absence, or applying for a career that is outside of your discipline, you may need personal referees.
  • Make sure your references can speak to your employment capabilities. You may even give them a job description so they can choose your best traits.
  • Before listing references, inform them. Don't assume everyone you approach will be interested in providing a reference. Allow people to decline referrals The last thing you want to do is select a referee who doesn't want to provide a good reference!
  • Your professional recommendations should include a variety of contacts. Many employers want supervisor, peer, and direct reporting references. Try to prepar 2 professionals and 2 personal referees.

With these considerations in mind, here are our 5 professional and 5 personal ideas for referees:


  1. Manager
    If you're departing on good terms, your employer or supervisor can testify to your professional talents, work ethic, and fit for the new role. You may not want your present employer to know you're job-hunting. If you  cannot include a current manager,  ask trusted coworkers for recommendations. Also, consider an explanation as to  why you're unable to include current managers or coworkerson your reference list, in case your future employer asks you during the interview process.
  2. Former managers (who are no longer employed by your current workplace)
    If your present manager won't be a reference, ask a past manager. They're a trustworthy reference since they were your supervisor and they no longer have a bias towards your existing employment.
  3. Coworkers
    Ask current and previous employees for referrals as well as managers. Make sure it's not simply a work pal but someone you've worked with and can vouch for your new role.
  4. Lecturers or tutors
    New graduates may struggle to find professional references. If you value a lecturer, ask them. If the lecturer teaches in an area connected to the job you're looking for, their reference will be more credible. Sessional teaching staff typically work in both academia and practice, so these a great networks to ask for a reference.
  5. Clients
    A client testimonial is the best endorsement for an independent professional. A great recommendation shows a potential client or employer, that you can deliver and do it well!

If you’re already using CO-architecture, you may already know that client/employer feedback is crucial. When a contract ends, clients/employers leave feedback as part of the process. This feedback shows up in the recommendations section of your profile. CO-architecture also enables you to add testimonials and referees for work you’ve done off the platform.


  1. Peers & Group Members
    If you worked on group projects, including a group member as a reference to discuss your work. This is especially important for fresh grads. Try to select from group projects that are noteworthy. These could be project that are 'real-world', highly engaged with community, had tangible outcomes or has been published.
  2. Volunteers
    Volunteering on your CV is a good idea. Ask a supervisor or peer from the organization to serve as a reference throughout your job hunt.
  3. Academic Mentor
    If they know you well, an academic mentor may be a fantastic academic reference like a lecturer. If they know you well, they can talk about your personality and academic achievements.
  4. Club Organisers
    If you need references, consider your student body reps or club organisers. Your reps can attest to your work ethic and conscientiousness with your commitment to extra curricular activities and clubs. There are many student and graduate clubs/networks that cater for design graduates and typically focus on representing their members within industry.
  5. Friends & Family (with caution!)
    Generally you want to avoid using close personal connections. The idea behind providing a reference, is to demonstrate your professional capabilities and part of that means also acknowledging room for growth with honest feedback. Our close relationships are inherently biased and therefore less likely to provide good constructive referrals. However if you are new to the workforce, try to select a friend or family member who works in the industry or who has some authority when talking about design. This will give their referral credibility.

What comes next?

A good reference from a previous manager or client may go a long way towards proving your value to potential employers and clients. Prepare your list before you begin your job hunt, or at the very least before the interview process begins.

Consider adding client testimonials to your CO-architecture profile if you're an independent professional to assist you in securing employment on the platform. Employers will see your testimonials as proof of the quality of your work when you apply for positions on the platform!

All the best in your next application on CO-architecture!