Looking for a job? Ask a co-worker to be a reference, suggests new study

A new study suggests both a co-worker and a former boss should be used as a reference when applying for a job as both will provide a unique perspective on the person you really are to a future employer.

Study says both bosses and co-workers can provide a unique perspective to who you really are

A study recently published in the Harvard Business Review suggests job hunters provide references from both a co-worker and a boss, because it will give a more well-rounded perspective of who you are and the skills you could provide.

The next time you apply for a job you may want to consider asking a co-worker as well as a former boss to be a reference. 

A new study co-authored by professor Chet Robie from the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics suggests together, they pair provide a more complete picture of who you are and what you have to offer.

Robie told The Morning Edition's guest host Andrea Bellemare on Tuesday that while a former boss is more likely to describe how you perform assigned work, a co-worker can give a more personal perspective, describing the type of person you are and what you're like to work with.

Stories they tell

"Bosses tend to look at the task related behaviours: Are they dependable? Do they come into work on time? Do they have the right experience?" said Robie.

"The co-workers tend to look at 'Do I want to work with this person?' kind of themes. Are they helpful? Do they listen? Are they compassionate?"

Need a work reference? New research done in part by Professor Chet Robbie with the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics suggests you use co-workers as well as a former boss. 6:19

Robie said the perspectives differ since people tend to be more careful around their bosses and are more likely to be themselves in front of coworkers.

Examining both perspectives gives a prospective employer what Robie called is a patchwork of themes that best describes the candidate.

The study entitled References Should Come from a Candidate's Co-workers, Not Just Their Boss and was recently published in the Harvard Business Review.