A guide to references

A guide to references

A guide to references

Referees are still very relevant in today’s job market despite the explosion of social media and online recommendations.

Online recommendations are great for showing the skills you are best known for, but they are not a substitute for the role references play.

The referees that recruiters and employers value the most are those people you reported to directly. These people can speak about how you used your skills and experience to add value to their organisation.

Former managers can also speak to your attributes such as reliability, ability to build and leverage relationships, and whether you collaborate well with other team members.

It’s a good idea to keep track of where your referees are as they too may have moved on from the organisation where you both once worked. If you leave finding people until the moment you are being asked for their contact details, it will cause you unnecessary stress.

There’s also such a thing as referee etiquette that you should follow when job hunting. It may have been many years since you last looked for a job, so you should contact your referees to ask if they are still happy to speak on your behalf before including them on your resume or providing their details to anyone.

When you know you have been shortlisted for a job or a recruiter asks you to supply at least two referees, it is time to let your referees know they will soon be contacted and by whom. If you don’t know the specific person, just let them know the name of the recruitment firm or employer organisation.

It’s also helpful to provide your referee with details about the job and the key skills, qualifications, and attributes the employer seeks. You might also outline some examples of your work and achievements that you will be relaying in the job interview from when you reported to your referee.

You don’t want to tell your referees what to say, but because much time may have passed since you both worked together, jogging their memory about genuine achievements could be helpful to them as well as you.