At some point in your career, you’re going to apply for a new job. In fact, you’re probably going to do it many times, which means you need to be really good at choosing references in case they scupper your application! Here are ten things to remember when choosing your references…
1. Choose a referee who likes you
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the simple fact is that you’re more likely to get a glowing reference from someone you have a good rapport with.
2. Select a variety of referees
Have at least two or three references for every job you apply for, but make sure each brings something different to the table. One could be great for highlighting your accomplishments and key skills, another for your personality, and a final reference for describing your demeanour and professional manner.
3. Ask their permission first
Ask your chosen few if they’re happy to provide you with a reference, and only forward them as a referee if they give you the go-ahead.
4. Select referees who are likely to provide helpful examples
If you had the initiative to source extra material for your role, such as teaching resources, select a referee who will mention it when they’re talking about you. Examples like this back up the assertions they’re making and counts for a lot.
5. Decide whether you’ll detail your referees contact information
It’s fine to give the names of your referees and their job positions, but not everyone likes their contact telephone number and email address being included. This is personal information, and is only the kind of thing you should disclose if you have permission first.
6. Keep it professional
It’s not unusual to work with a family member or spouse, but even if your mum is your boss, pick someone else. Your referees should be unrelated to you in order to make their testimonial credible and trustworthy in the eyes of a prospective employer.
7. Select a referee whose work is relevant to your application
If possible, use referees who hold a similar position to the one you’re applying for. This signals to your potential employer that their reference carries weight because they’re familiar with the specifics of your performance, capability and potential.
8. Decide where to include your references in an application
Some advisors recommend including your references at the foot of your CV, while others suggest sending it in a separate document altogether. Check the application instructions for the job you’re applying for, and if it’s not mentioned, use your best judgement.
While you shouldn’t coach your referees, reminding them of your key skills, best accomplishments and involvement in important projects is a good idea. This way, they’ll be well prepared and able to give relevant information to an interested employer.
10. Keep your references informed
If you’re applying for a job (or a series of jobs), it’s good manners to keep your references in the loop. Give them some warning that they might be contacted, and thank them for their willingness to help you – regardless of whether you get the job or not!