You may see it as a formality by not thinking twice when you list them, but who you list as your references deserves some thought. You want it to be the right people because when they are contacted they’re not going to simply be asked whether you are a good person or not. Rather, they are probably going to do some digging to see just what type of employee you are. With this knowledge, here are 5 people you should never list as a reference.


A Person You Haven’t Talked to in Years

It is best practice to list people who have recent knowledge of you. People that understand your current industry knowledge as well as how you work on a day-to-day basis. In addition, if the person was a co-worker from long ago there is a slight chance they won’t remember you and an even higher chance they won’t remember the terrific work you put in. If you insist on listing someone like this, it’s important to contact them before you add them to ensure they remember the type of employee you were and update them with what you’ve been doing lately.


A Person Who Has a Bad Reputation

You may want to include a reference who works for the company to which you’re applying. Before doing this, however, understand what their reputation in the workplace might be. The person may not openly say it but you can usually tell in the way he or she speaks about work. If the way they talk about the company is generally negative, whether it be by complaining all the time or speaking of how they don’t get along with their co-workers. If this is the case, they may not be thought of very highly by their peers so it’s best to leave them off your list.


A Person You Don’t Know Well

This is important because, again, whoever calls your references will do some digging to see what type of employee you are. A person like this may know you on the surface but he won’t know how to answer any in-depth questions about you. If the person’s answers are short and unclear, it may raise a red flag and have your potential boss thinking he doesn’t know about your work ethic and skills.


A Person You Never Worked With

Unfortunately, your best friends don’t count as references. Sure, they’ll be able to speak highly of you and build you up. However, they won’t be able to speak to important things like how you’ve handled challenges or what type of unique skills you possess. The person calling probably already has a general idea of your personality. They just want some more insight as to how you are day-to-day as a worker. To gain this insight they’ll need to speak to people who have worked with you before.