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References Guide

Job references might seem like an archaic tradition of the past, but for many companies, this part of the qualifying process is still regarded as an essential part of hiring a new employee.

Most employers will actually expect you to have a number of references ready to hand over for their review and if you don’t have this available you run may look both unprepared and unqualified. Don’t panic, the process is simple and we have prepared a helpful guide on how to assemble a list of references that will help you secure the job of your dreams.

Why do you need references?

Employers are well aware that that they aren’t likely to get the whole truth about a candidate straight from their own mouths and will call upon your referees to find out more about your work history and professional reputation.  They will use the opportunity to get a better idea of your achievements and to verify what you have said in your CV and during an interview.

Who should you ask?

Ideally you should select three to five people who are familiar with your work in a professional setting and have a positive opinion of you.  They should also be people who are familiar with your recent work and can verify your most recent achievements.  Reach out to a former supervisor with whom you still have a positive relationship. Contact an old colleague you worked closely with. If you don’t have any previous employers then provide two personal references instead. You can ask a previous teacher or a lecturer at university if they are willing to be listed.

How do I make sure my reference will be good?

You can never be 100% sure that you will get a glowing references but creating a positive relationship with the people you have selected will give you the best chance of a glowing reference.

Firstly, you have to ensure that you have someone’s permission before you can list him or her as a reference on your documents. We recommend that you reach out and make a personal connection with each person you’d like to list. 

Secondly, it’s important that you always show gratitude for references. Providing a reference will take time out of their busy schedules so a quick email to let them know that they might be contacted will go a long way.

What if I haven’t resigned yet?

 If you’re looking for a new job then chances are you don’t want your boss to find out until after you hand in your resignation. Luckily, most employers understand this and don’t ask for references until after they offer you the job. This is called a conditional job offer and they may change their mind if they then get a bad reference for you so it is really important that you maintain positive relationship with the people listed as your referees.

Hopefully, this guide will help you pull together a list of references that will help you land your next job.  If you would like further advice on how to stay on top of your job search situation you can get in touch with our team of REC trained recruitment consultants who will guide you through the process.

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