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Job References: Who Should You Choose to Give you a Top Reference?

job referencesJob references can be a problematic part of the recruitment process.  Many businesses have implemented a “no reference” policy, leaving candidates nervous about who to give as a referee. So what can you do?

Job references are important because they give prospective employers a different insight into your applications.  They provide a window in which to view your work ethic, team player ability and general behaviour at work.

Because of this it is imperative to chose your reference wisely, to identify someone who will speak on your behalf and ask them to be your referee.

Job References – Who To Use?

In an ideal world, your most recent superior is the best person to cite as a reference.  They have the most up to date knowledge about you and can give the most relevant reference.  Obviously it is not always feasible to be able to give your current boss as a referee.  If you are currently working and not advertising your job hunt then I would recommend you look to alternative sources.

A Confidant Co Worker

Is there an individual at work who is aware of your desire to move roles?  Often these individuals can be testament to your working behaviour in your current role and can be accepted as a valid referee.  I recently worked with a Digital Marketing Manager who reported straight to the Marketing Director.  She was keen to keep her job hunt a secret, however she was able to provide the name of the Sales Director who had recently left the business and was able to give her a sterling, relevant reference.

Should You Choose HR?

My predominant areas of expertise in recruitment are digital media, marketing and performance.  Therefore, when presented with human resources as a contact for reference, I am immediately perplexed.  HR are great for providing dates of employment and the finer details like salary.  However, they lack the personal information, the nitty gritty, the stuff that is going to make my clients sit up and pay attention.

Wherever possible choose a reference who you have worked with on a day to day basis.

Just Starting out?

If you are looking for your first career move and don’t have an employment reference, don’t panic.  We have all been there.  When I started looking for a role post University I asked my college tutor if she would be happy to act as a reference for me.  I had worked with her for four years and felt she would be an ideal individual to be able to comment on my drive and enthusiasm, whilst giving a fair interpretation of my personality.

Top Tips

  • Make sure you ask permission before giving out email addresses and phone numbers of your referees.  This way they will be able to prepare for the call or email and have stories to hand about how fantastic you are.
  • Check how they would like to be contacted – it is polite.
  • Never ever give a false reference – it is simply not worth it!
  • Remember it is perfectly acceptable to say “references available on request” and then provide a referee when you know that the job is yours (subject to references)!

Have you ever been asked to be someone’s reference?  Or have you had problems finding a suitable referee? Please share your experience using the comments below.