One of the best assets you could have when applying for a new accounting job is a strong reference. While you may be tempted to give your previous supervisor’s name without talking to them first, or to just give them a quick heads up and nothing else, it’s important to provide the person you’re asking to be your reference with as much information as possible to ensure they can properly speak to your accounting skills and strengths.

Here are five things to communicate to your reference to help them help you in your job search:

1. Which company you’re applying to

It’s important to tell your reference which company you’re applying to so they know who to expect a phone call or email from. 

If your reference sounds like they were expecting a call, it will give a potential employer the impression that you applied with purpose. 

Having a reference surprised to hear from your potential employer doesn’t look the best, so ensure your reference is prepared to hear from them. 

2. What kind of job you’re applying for 

Telling your reference what kind of job you’re applying to will help them prepare for related questions. 

For example, if you’re applying to work as an internal accountant after working for a firm, it’s helpful for your reference to know that you’ll be working more independently than at an accounting firm so they can speak to your ability to do so. On the other hand, if you’re applying to work at another firm, you’ll want your reference to speak to how well you performed in that environment.

Your reference should also know what type of accounting the job you’re applying for entails so they can speak to your interests and skills in that area. 

3. What position you’re applying for

The specific job title of the role you’re applying for is valuable for your reference to know because it will help them tailor their responses accordingly. 

Provide them with a copy of the job posting so they can see what your potential employer is looking for. Knowing the tasks of the job will help refresh their memory of what you’ve done for them and what you’ll be great at in your next role.

4. If you’re switching areas 

Ensure your reference knows if you’re applying to work in a different area of accounting. 

For example, if you’re wanting to switch from tax to audit, ask your reference to speak to your transferable skills. 

It will increase your chances of getting hired if the company is confident that your skills are beneficial to a new area. 

5. Projects you worked on at your previous job

Lastly, don’t forget to give your reference an idea of what exactly to say. 

Prompt them with ideas of projects you worked on and refresh their memory of all that you can do. 

For example, say to your previous supervisor: “I really enjoyed working on this project, and I would love it if you spoke to it in a reference!”

It’s a great way to give your reference a head start!

Locking in a strong reference to lock in a great job

Applying for a new accounting job can be intimidating, but locking in a strong reference can be a big help. 

Ensure your previous supervisor is prepared to give you a glowing reference with these tips, and soon you’ll be well on your way to starting the job of your dreams!

And speaking of dream jobs, be sure to visit our careers page for information about our own current job openings. We can’t wait to hear from you (and maybe your reference!).


This post has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not advice. The information presented may not fit your unique situation, please consult one of our trusted business advisors at RHN CPA for further clarification and interpretation of your circumstances.