4 Out-of-the-Ordinary Executive References You Should Use Today

As preparation for any new executive job opportunity, you should prepare a list of job references. It’s common for interviewers to contact these individuals before or after interviewing you, and what they say could be a major factor in whether you get a job offer.

Most people have a few standby references they can tap for an interview, but these are the people you should always include in your reference list.


Your references serve to prove your upstanding character in the workplace and job performance, but they can also give a future employer a well-rounded look at you as an executive. Stand out from the crowd and give your interviewer a holistic view of your experience by including these four people in your reference list:

  1. Former employer. This one isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary, but worth mentioning. Former employers are great references because they prove you left the company on good terms, plus they can give specific information about your contributions to the business.
  2. Mentor. Consider listing a career mentor as a reference, too. This individual is likely extremely successful in his or her own right, so their assessment of you will hold weight. They can also share an interesting perspective on your career journey, which an employer or colleague couldn’t.
  3. Volunteer associate. Do you serve on any nonprofit boards or committees? An associate from organizations like these would be a great reference to show your well-rounded character, and also prove how you can translate work-related skills (like management or finance aptitude) to non-work functions that improve your community.
  4. Vendor or partner. Perhaps you’ve facilitated a successful vendor relationship or business partnership in a previous position. These partners are excellent references because they show how you used communication, negotiation, management and organization skills to bring people together and produce results.


No matter who you choose for your reference list, they shouldn’t be blindsided with an unexpected phone call from a hiring manager. Prepare your references by:

  • Calling them ahead of time to make sure they’re comfortable acting as a reference for you.
  • Inform them which companies you’re applying for and from whom they should expect a phone call.
  • Giving them some information about the positions you’re interviewing for and the responsibilities listed in the job description—then, they can refine their answers with details that show you’re a perfect fit.

And, once you find a new opportunity, send a personal email or thank-you note to each of your references.


References are useless if you can’t get your foot in the door for an interview. An executive recruiter can help you identify opportunities that fit your skillset and experience. Send us your resume today, and check out our list of active searches to see if you’d be a fit.

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