Top 5 Things You Can Do To Get a Good Job Reference

Lately I’ve been asked to give job references to many people I have formerly worked with. I don’t always accept the request, because if I give a reference I want to make sure it is great. Trusted personal and professional references are key to getting the next job or even the next apartment.

Below are the five things in my experience that you can do to ensure you get a great reference –at least from me –but I believe that if you do these things, you’ll get the great reference from anyone:

1.   Have a great attitude – be enthusiastic

As the wise John Wooden once said

“Work without ENTHUSIASM is just work.”

and “just work” is not enough to be successful.

People who are positive and willing to do the work are not only appreciated they are often given new challenges and opportunities because they take on things with a good attitude and a willingness to learn. While having a positive attitude doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push back if you don’t agree or voice your opinion, it does mean that you take on things in a way that encourages others to get to the best answer for the business.

Mr. Wooden also connected enthusiasm to leadership:

“As a leader, you must be filled with energy and eagerness, joy and love for what you do. If you lack enthusiasm for your job, you cannot perform to the best of your ability. Industriousness is unattainable without Enthusiasm.”

2.  Do things beyond your job

Going the extra mile and chipping in where extra hands are needed not only gives you an opportunity to experience new things, it also shows your team and your boss that you care and can do more than just your job. People who go beyond are often the highest achievers in an organization and are often promoted. Get rid of the “that’s not my job attitude” and show up to do what is right for the team and the business even if it means occasionally taking on a presentation, wrangling a spreadsheet, making copies or getting an important partner a cup of coffee every once in a while.

3.  Anticipate

No matter what role or level you are at, it is hard when you always need to be asked to do something. Instead of just taking orders and “doing the basics” anticipate what is needed for the task, process or even entire business to be successful and develop goals and plans to meet the business needs. Come ready to meetings with your team and your boss with a plan and real ideas on how to move your projects and the organization’s success forward. Don’t just show up, instead be present, active and engaged.

4.  Keep in touch, but don’t overdo it

When you leave an organization, or the boss you want the A+ reference leaves make sure to stay in touch. I don’t mean weekly pings or sending gifts, show you are still engaged by occasionally sending over something interesting about your industry or even connecting via social media and commenting on each others posts. This keeps you connected, so when you do need to ask for the reference you are remembered.

5.  Do a good job

Another John Wooden quote to round out the top 5.


The work you do everyday should be something you are proud of. A true effort in anything you do pays off in both output and goodwill. A colleague or boss who can tell that your work is truly your best effort will be willing to lift you up, teach you things you don’t know and ultimately promote you to new heights. So don’t forget to do the research to make your output great, read over your work, check your formulas twice, make sure the job you do each day, in everything you do, is your best.

Giving a reference is a personal thing and living your personal and professional life in a way that will make it a no brainer to get the reference is not only good for your career and apartment prospects, it’s good for your health too.

Robin Beadle