Competency Category:

15.5 – Work with Clients to Develop References

Purpose & Context

Career Development Professionals (CDPs) guide clients in developing references to support their job search. Clients need to secure referees and manage their reputation effectively. CDPs inform clients of the importance of representing themselves truthfully, and that employers often verify information supplied by clients to inform a final hiring decision.

Effective Performance

Competent career development professionals must be able to:

  • P1. Describe criteria for referees, for example:
    • Worked with client in a professional, educational, or volunteer setting
    • Has personal knowledge of client, e.g. character, skills, accomplishments
    • Speaks the language of the prospective employer
  • P2. Identify list of referees
    • Seek agreement from referees to be contacted by prospective employers
    • Add new referees when appropriate, e.g. direct supervisor when leaving a role
    • Ensure contact information is current
  • P3. Explain how to prepare referees, for example:
    • Describe the opportunity requiring references
    • Ask for permission to use their information
    • Provide a current résumé to the referee
    • Indicate experience and accomplishments to be emphasized
    • Confirm availability
  • P4. Collect letters of recommendation from varied sources, e.g. previous employers, teachers, colleagues, clients
  • P5. Research professional reputation, for example:
    • Evaluate internet and social media search results of client’s name
    • Present professional image throughout job search and career development activities
  • P6. Formulate strategies to resolve a poor reputation, for example:
    • Resolve concerns with former employers, supervisors, or colleagues
    • Volunteer, e.g. for an industry association, not-for-profit group, as a mentor
    • Seek out individuals or groups aligned with interests
    • Create a website, blog, or new social media profile
    • Request endorsements from employers and colleagues
    • Seek professional help, where needed, e.g. legal advice, reputation management firm

Knowledge & Understanding

Competent career development professionals must know and understand:

  • K1. `Reference development strategies
  • K2. `Reputation management strategies

Contextual Variables

Competent career development professionals must be able to perform this competency in the following range of contexts:

Clients may present with complex barriers or issues, which can add complexity to reference and reputation management, e.g. newcomers to Canada.

Some Canadian employers have an internal policy of not giving references and limiting verbal references to confirming dates of employment.

Glossary & Key References


Industry-specific terms contained in the standard defined here, where applicable.

Referee: a person that a recruiter or potential employer can email, call or contact to verify specific components of a client’s background.

Value Proposition: is a message that a client can use to consistently communicate his or her promise of value to potential employers. Note this term originated as a marketing strategy to sell products to buyers. In career development, the client is considered “the product” and the employer “the buyer”.

Information Sources and Resources for Consideration

Graham, Sharon. The Canadian Interview Strategist Study Guide. 5th edition. Career Professionals of Canada, Milton, Ontario, 2020.

Context Rating Scales


Q: What is the consequence of a professional being unable to perform this skill according to the standard?



Q: How frequent and under what conditions is this skill performed?

Routinely, regular course of procedure

Level of Difficulty

Q: Under routine circumstances, how would you rate the level of difficulty in performing this skill?

Moderate difficulty or complexity

Time Required to Gain Proficiency

Q: What is the average length of time or number of repeated events that are minimally necessary for an individual to become proficient in performing the skill to the standard?

A competent career development professional requires a minimum of one year of experience with at least 40 different clients, representing a broad range of individuals.


Practitioners typically perform this competency without supervision, and alone.


It is somewhat likely that this competency will automate.

Requisite Work Aids, Tools, Equipment or Materials


Career Development Professional Centre

Help us cultivate a community we all enjoy by reviewing and following the Code of Conduct.  

Our Purpose  

Thank you for being a part of the online CDPC social learning community. To ensure that all members have the best possible experience, we have a few ground rules that we ask everyone to adhere to. This code of conduct applies equally to every person in the community and is intended to foster an online space that is inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all. 

Community Rules 

Be welcoming 

We strive to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds and identities. We aim to create and facilitate a community that promotes excellence and innovation in career and workforce development. Please extend respect to all members; we all come from different backgrounds and levels of knowledge and there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

Be respectful 

We won’t all agree all the time, but when we disagree don’t let those disagreements turn into personal attacks. A community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened will not be a productive one. Instead, when having discussions in the online community, create productive conversations around the content being presented, not the person behind the content. Any post that is determined to be “hate speech” towards any individual or group will be deleted, and the user account may be locked until an investigation regarding the post has been concluded. The user may be given a written warning or removed from the CPDC community platform depending on the findings of the investigation.  

Hate Speech could include and is not limited to:  

  • Violent threats or language directed against another person 
  • Discriminatory jokes, language, or materials 
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A good rule of thumb is to never post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the world seeing or that you wouldn’t want anyone knowing came from you. We ask that you keep in mind the focus of this community, which is building excellence and innovation in career and workforce development for all individuals.  

Be considerate of the purpose of the community 

This community will be focused on building excellence and discussing innovation in the career and workforce development field. The goal of this community is to communicate goals, challenges, constructive feedback, and questions in relation to career and workforce development. The community should be a place for continued learning and development as well as a place to discuss the future of our field (solicitation without written consent by the Project or Advisory team, is strictly prohibited). Any post that is determined to be soliciting any individual or group will be deleted, and the user account may be locked until an investigation regarding the post has been concluded. The user may be given a written warning or removed from the CPDC community platform depending on the findings of the investigation. 

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Make reasonable efforts to ensure that posts and materials are allocated to the appropriate group or topic. This will prevent cluttering the community and make it easier for everyone to find the information that they are seeking. Individuals who do this repeatedly will be contacted by one of the group admins and asked to follow these guidelines.  

Privacy and Release of Information  

CDPC-CEDC will not release your information to any third-party agencies.  

Group Admins 

There are four group admins who are available to you. Below are their names and their spoken language. 

Heather Powell | Anglophone 

Gabrielle St-Cyr | Francophone/Anglophone 

Florence Desrochers | Francophone/Anglophone

Muriel Andoblé-Yao | Francophone

Thank you and welcome to the CDPC Community!