Preparing your references

References can show a potential employer—in this instance, the municipality—your best traits as an employee.


When applying to a job with the municipality, keep the following in mind:

  • you must provide the names and contact information for a minimum of three references.
  • one of your references must be your current or most recent supervisor.
  • your references cannot be family members.

For each reference, be sure to include:

  • their name, organization and job title
  • your working relationship to them
  • their current email address and phone number
  • the duration of your employment with them

What the municipality expects from you

Your references must be verifiable and be able to speak to your experience. When selecting references, you should:

  • ensure that your references have agreed to provide reference information, are available during the hiring process, and are informed that they will be contacted.
  • provide current contact information for your references.
  • provide names of alternate references, if requested.
  • consider providing your references with a copy of your resume—if you are unsure which references to provide, ask your recruiter when they make contact with you.

What the municipality expects from your references

Picking strong references can help you during the hiring process. Some traits of strong references include:

  • they have observed you in job-relevant situations.
  • they have direct knowledge of your work.
  • they can answer specific questions about your achievements and strengths.
  • they have worked with you for at least six months within the last three years.
  • they will be open and candid in providing relevant information about your work performance.

Common questions about references

What if this is my first job?
For students and recent graduates who may not have held previous jobs, a reference from a teacher is acceptable. Please discuss this with Human Resources or the hiring manager when they request your references.

What if I am new to Canada and all of my references are overseas or out of the country?
Follow the same steps as you would if your references were here in Canada. You will still need to provide complete contact information (email, phone numbers) for your references and advise your references that someone will be contacting them.

Do I need to prepare my reference?
You may want to give your reference a copy of the job posting and a copy of your resume. The more information they have, the better prepared they will be to provide you with a good reference. You should also ensure that references will be available during the recruitment process and keep them informed on when they should expect to be called. It is important to ensure that the municipality will be able to easily make contact with your reference.

I know that my current supervisor will give me a good recommendation, but I am nervous that it could ruin our working relationship if I am not the successful applicant. Do I have to use this person as a reference?
Yes. Before any job offer is extended, the municipality must obtain a reference from your current or most recent supervisor. However, that only happens for the top candidate in the hiring process. This means that you do not need to worry about anyone contacting your current supervisor unless you have successfully completed all other stages of the hiring process and are being considered for the position.

What if I have a poor relationship with my current supervisor?
Not everyone has an effective working relationship with their supervisor. If this is your situation, please advise Human Resources during the hiring process. There are options, such as getting a reference from the person who supervises your supervisor or other managers within your workplace. 

What if the hiring manager or recruiter is unable to contact one of my references?
It is your responsibility to prepare your references in advance and to make sure they are available. The selection process will not be suspended because one of your references cannot be contacted.  You may be asked to provide an alternate reference or to advise when your reference will be available.