Choosing References for your Resume

If an employer is contacting your references, then they are already convinced you can do the job but want to hear from someone who has personal experience of seeing you at work.

They want to hear only positive things from your references, so selecting the right people is crucial to a successful job application.

Where do you Start?

Your references should be someone you have worked with in your current or a recent job (or during an internship), preferably in a more senior position than yourself (e.g., your Manager/Supervisor), or a tutor from a University level course you recently completed.

The longer and more recently they have known you, the better.

Do not use personal friends or family as references, unless there is nobody else.

You should always ask these people if they would be a reference for you before you put their details on any job application.

What will your Reference Say About You?

The first and most important aspect of choosing a reference is to choose someone who is only going to say good things about you.

If it is a boss, you did not get on well with, then that is not the person to put on your CV. Even if you feel the response from that person was unfair.

If there is somebody you know who has a strong reputation in your industry, their name alone can be extremely influential.

Having someone as your reference that the employer or recruiter immediately recognizes makes them think, that if this person is prepared to give you a good reference, then this candidate must be well suited to the job.

A quality reference can make a big difference to any Job Application

Don’t be afraid to coach your references when you ask them to be your reference

How do you Coach your references?

You phone them or speak face to face if you can, or maybe email them, and ask them if they will be your reference

If you are about to apply for a specific job, tell them a little about the position and the skills that are required. You might then suggest to the references that these are among your strongest skills!

Let them know that they may be contacted soon. This ensures they keep you in their thoughts and are not surprised when they do get contacted.

When the reference gets contacted by the employer, they are now more likely to speak positively about you concerning those skills.

If you had some areas of weakness in the past and you have now made improvements, then you can also let the reference know what you have been doing recently to improve your skills in those areas.

Again, the references might mention when they are contacted that you have upskilled recently in areas that had not previously been your strongest.

You might have a great resume and crush the interview, but a conversation with a reference that raises questions rather than confirms your abilities can be the end of the road. Choose your references wisely and make sure they are aware of being contacted. Then you will have satisfied businesses like those at

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