This is my first job since graduating, I've been in the role for 10 months.

The job isn't quite what I'm looking for for my career development. I'm looking to move into a software company with more sophisticated software development processes, where I can develop my software development skills.

The question is - how do I go about getting a reference from colleagues in my existing job? To get this job I used references from my university professor, and someone I worked with in a university club.

The senior I work under, I wouldn't exactly trust to give me a good reference, and my actual boss works in a different office, so I don't work with him much. The others I work with are at the same level I am. Would the best course of action be to ask one of them?

I can ask one guy who has since left, who was also more senior than me. Is it appropriate to have two references from your current position?

  • 4
    Is it just the development processes that you're not thrilled with? The grass always looks greener on the other side but you're going to be hard pressed to find somewhere that realistically is 8+ on the Joel Test (outside of a biiiig place like Bungie or something), uses true deployment tools and proper version control. If you like the job, check this out: joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000332.html Oct 30, 2013 at 23:23
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    Welcome back to The Workplace, you are asking several questions and I'm not quite clear what you're actually looking for. Are you asking how to ask for references? Who to ask for references from? How many references to get? If you could edit your question to focus on a single question, it would be helpful.
    – jmac
    Oct 31, 2013 at 1:08
  • @AndrewBartel - I think regardless of 'The grass is greener' syndrome, it would still be worthwhile to have a look what's out there, send CVs off, and attend interviews. Even in a job that you love, this is a good idea. One option is to leave a 'References on request' on my CV, and cross the reference bridge when they request it.
    – user10911
    Oct 31, 2013 at 2:16
  • @AndrewBartel the Joel Test could really use a reboot at this point I think :) "We don't use source control" alone would be a -100 on my personal "Ptr Test"
    – ptr
    Nov 7, 2018 at 7:48

2 Answers 2


This early in your career (under a year) - it's still safe to have a few favorite professors on your reference list. Ideally you'd get at least one reference from your job, and former colleagues are always a safer bet.

What jobs frequently will look for, though, is at least one supervisor reference - they want to know how well you work in the workplace, and how a boss assesses you is a pretty big deal. Where you are leaving this early in the job, I can see that it can be tricky to have built up enough of a reputation to easily ask for a good reference... but it may be worth thinking about who you can speak to.

I'd recommend starting the job search, but also cultivating a stronger relationship with your real boss. If things aren't going well with the team lead you work closely with, this is a good idea anyway, and it may give you some opportunities to use the bigger boss as a sounding board for what you could do at the current job in the meantime to be happier.

Generally it's safe to require a job offer before the reference check, where the offer is contingent upon the references checking out. So, with most jobs, you can through quite a bit of interviewing before you have to give references.


Some of the comments from HR people in other posts indicates they don't check references anyway. So you may be going through pointless bother.

Setting that aside, figure out who A) knows you do good work and B) will vouch for you to a third party. If your 'senior' is lukewarm but one or two of your associates is happy working alone side you use the associate as a reference. Don't worry about the supervisory relationship - most of the time the people calling just want to know if you worked there and can fog a mirror.

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