For an entry level jobseeker, the reference list pool can be limited due to lack of work experience. So how do you make sure you have the right people speaking on your behalf?

The recruitment process usually involves one or two interviews, and for some, an assessment may be required. If the potential employer is still interested thereafter, they will contact the list of references you have provided. We know this can be challenging when you don’t have many years of work experience. So here are some ideas on how to cultivate a good set of references:

  • Job-shadow and get to know people in the industry you’re interested in. This will ensure that potential employers have reliable sources to call when the time comes. Read our article on how job-shadowing can have huge benefits on your future career here.
  • Do volunteer work. December holidays are just around the corner, why not get a holiday job or do some community service? Although the volunteer work might not be in line with your career, such a reference will still make a good impression. Read our article on how to ensure you make the most out of your volunteer work experience here.
  • Networking is a great way to build connections and to increase the opportunities around you. You can network by attending youth events, seminars and even online using professional platforms such as LinkedIn. Still not sure how to begin your networking journey? Read our article here for more tips.

Once you have about 2-3 reliable references, their information should include:

  • Their full name (Name and surname)
  • Role or position (Job title)
  • Institution or company
  • Contact details (Phone number and email address)

Here’s an example:

Mandy Martin


Cape Town High School

Cell: xxx xxx xxx

Email: xxx @ xxx

Image credit: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo