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Perhaps just my experience but I feel like in the past it used to be more expected to have a management reference from past jobs. In the last couple places I've worked, management was sort of behind the scenes and I interacted much more with my coworkers. Well, I actually worked with my coworkers. So they would better position to assess me if contacted as a reference.

Does it look better having a manager as a reference, than a non-manager? Some places I've applied to even specified they are looking for management references. Is it typical that hiring managers prefer references from management?

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    How many references do you have total? In my opinion, it's fine as long as you have at least one reference from a manager. But if you have none, it's not the end of the world either. Just work with what you have. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 17 at 11:00
  • Please add a location tag. In my part of the world, "references" is a foreign concept, while in your part it's common. While common in different parts of the world, it might be handled differently, too. So please add a location tag, so the answers actually apply to your location. – nvoigt Jan 18 at 6:36
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I use non-management references occasionally. A manager might not be the best at stating code quality (I'm a developer) while a peer developer would be able to make stronger statements on code quality and ability to work on a team.

They key to a reference isn't the role the reference holds; but, the ability of the reference to project the information needed by the new company. If the company wants to see your technical prowess, a manager could be a good reference or no; depending on the manager.

All companies are sensitive to some input; valuing that input more than other input. Your job as a job seeker is to get to know the company well enough to put your best foot forward. If the company is sensitive to higher job titles, then present management references. If they are sensitive to "in the trenches experiences", present your coworkers.

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I've never seen companies asking for references from specific title / position, but my knowledge could be limited. In general, the target for asking references are for two reasons

  • Verify your employment and work experience (not too in-depth, just an overall picture)
  • Ensure you had a good work ethics.

So, in your previous job, whomever you actually worked with, or, in other words, who knows what and how you did things, can be listed as reference. Usually, a manager, a team lead and a coworker is fine, but in case if you don't have anyone of a specific role who can act as a reference (some of us are in this situation because of various reasons), do not think too much about it - go with whomever you can believe to provide a positive perspective and put some good words for you. That should do the job on most of the cases.

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