How to Choose Referees for your Resumeby Hania Syed
Glowing references can be the difference between scoring a new job and being passed up on. So how should you choose between all your connections to select top notch referees?
What Does a Referee Do?
Referees give potential employers information about your character, skills and past work experience, helping to back up what you’ve said on your resume. They will also confirm your previous employment dates and your job title. Most hiring managers will only conduct reference checks once interviews have been conducted and they are considering which candidate to offer the position to. Referees may be asked to provide a written reference or to simply answer some questions over the phone.
Who Can I Ask To Be My Referee?
Some good referees to consider include your previous employers, a team leader, a manager or a work experience employer. You can also choose former colleagues, clients, coaches, teachers or people you’ve volunteered for. Generally, prospective employers will request two references.
It’s best not to ask personal friends, family members or classmates to be your referee, as this looks unprofessional and biased.
Once you’ve chosen your referees, make sure you have their job title, full name and current contact details accurately recorded.
What Do I Need to Tell My References?
It’s important that you make sure your references are prepared to take phone calls or answer emails about you. You should always ask for their consent before providing them as a reference, and inform them about the roles you’re applying for and the qualities or skills you’d like them to highlight. You don’t have to tell them the details of every job you apply to, but do give them a broad overview so that they can provide the best reference possible.
Who Should I Choose?
You might find that you have several good references to choose from, but how do you choose the right referees? Try to choose someone who thinks highly of you, and can provide a first-hand account of your previous performance. For example, while the head of a particular department may have been your boss in your previous role, perhaps you worked much more closely with a senior staff member who can provide a more personalised reference for you.
From a practical perspective, you should also try to choose a referee who is well-spoken and clear over the phone. This will be the icing on the cake when it comes to getting a glowing reference!
Can I Use the Same References for Every Job Application?
Just like resumes and cover letters should be tailored for different jobs, so should your reference list. Different references will be able to highlight different areas of strength depending on what a particular role demands. Plus, it’s also nice to share the load between referees if you’re applying to lots of jobs.
You should also maintain your references as time goes on, keeping in touch with them to ensure your relationship remains strong. Keep them up to date with how your job search is going, and make sure they’re still happy to be a reference so that they’re not caught off guard by a recruiter.
What If I Don’t Have Any Professional References?
If you’re new to the job market, you won’t have any former employers to provide a professional reference, but you can ask people to provide a character reference instead. A character reference tells a prospective employer about the kind of person that you are, highlighting traits such as punctuality, strong work ethic, communication, honesty and persistence.
As mentioned above, some of the people who can provide a character reference include teachers, coaches or anyone that you have volunteered for.
Finally, make sure to thank your references for their time. Regardless of the outcome of your job application, call or email your referee to say thank you and to maintain a positive relationship with them.
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