I'm a fresh graduate and applying for positions which require a strong technical background. Most of the companies ask for references, but I don't have good references who also have strong technical knowledge.

I lost contact with my advisor, so that's not an option. Is it necessary that such jobs require references with technical knowledge? Is it okay to give references of people with whom I worked, for example, I worked as a support/service graduate assistant while I was a student, who did not have any technical knowledge?

2 Answers 2


Should references have strong technical background?

This depends on what they give you a reference for. If you list somebody to be a tech lead or infrastructure architect that you worked with (if this is your profession) and I give them a call to check your reference, I do expect them to also mention your technical skills and it would feel very strange to me if they didn't seem to know what they're talking about.

On the other hand, if you list a former CEO, I don't immediately expect any deep knowledge of them. But I also wouldn't call them to hear something about your specific skill set

It's all in the label.

As long as you list references properly and don't mis-label anybody - say calling the editor of a blog you set up CTO, because their role is the closest to that of a CTO - you should be fine. In general, references are supposed to attest to your work and your person from their point of view. If they aren't technical, that's fine, nobody expects them to pass technical judgement.

Should your lack of technical references actually be something that bothers your potential employer, there's always probation periods or - if there's no other option - internships, that can help them gauge your skills.


Don't worry if the references you list aren't technical, but don't make them out to be something they're not.

  • +1: I like this answer, but I think it also might be useful to suggest that references should be diverse enough to cover "technical" as well as "soft" skills. Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 17:37

You are interviewed for the job, not your references. It all matters how strong you are in technical, than your references.

References are requested from the job seeker, to know more than technical things like character, behavior, role in the previous organization etc etc.

They don't need to be technical at all, they need to know you well as a person.

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