Choose your referees wisely

So, you’re resume has got you a job interview and your interviews have gone really well. Now, there’s only one thing standing in the way of the job being yours – your reference checks. Yes, your referees really are that important and can make or break your career.

How to choose referees:

Do: Get your referee’s approval before putting them forward. Apart from common courtesy it’s not a good idea to supply a person’s name and contact details without getting their prior approval so you can brief them about the job first.

Don’t: Choose someone who won’t give you a glowing reference. The reference checker will be asking questions along the lines of: “Would you employ this person again?”

Do: Choose someone with whom you’ve worked closely. Referees will be called upon to provide a detailed account of your abilities and skills so your prospective employer will prefer it if the person has worked with you on a day-to-day basis for a period of time.

Don’t: Supply incorrect or out-of-date contact details. Check that the referee’s contact details and job title are correct. And importantly, make sure they will be available and not away on leave or a company trip. Give a couple of contact numbers if you can.

Do: Brief your referees beforehand. Explain in detail the position you are applying for and the tasks you will be expected to perform so they can support your skills and experience.

Don’t: Rely on written references. Most employers want to talk to two or three nominees and preferably a person from each of your most recent positions.

Do: Thank your referee. Whether or not you end up getting the position, always be sure to thank your referee for their time and help in your job search.

Final tips when choosing your referees

1. Whoever you choose must be work related, unless the employer is asking for a character reference.

2. They must be able to provide a detailed account of your working style, skills and abilities.

With these factors in mind, the obvious candidates to use as referees include:

  • Current colleagues
  • Direct managers/team leaders from previous positions
  • Clients or suppliers with whom you deal on a regular basis.

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