6 Tips for Picking Good Job References Hero Image

6 Tips for Picking Good Job References

There are many important things to consider when looking for a new job. Your cover letter needs to make your stand out from the competition, you resume must be up to date, and in the interview, you need to show that you’re a good fit for the company. That’s all, right? Unfortunately, no. Prospective candidates have lost positions due to receiving a poor reference.

Are references really that important?

Yes! It is important when you’re asked to provide two references that you choose people who can talk about your accomplishments, your skill set and how you made a difference in the workplace. We have some tips for choosing the right references for you.


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Make sure the person can refer you

Some HR departments no longer allow references to be given for employees. This is because they fear facing legal action due to the content of the reference. It is not illegal for a past employer to give you a bad reference; however, if they say something defamatory, they can be sued by you. Most of these companies will give a statement of employment. While this may not be ideal, it is better than not being provided with anything.


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Choose suitable people

Choose people who you worked with closely, preferably in a superior position to you. Your past supervisor will know the quality of your work, how you developed in the position and what you are capable of. If this is your first job, a teacher or lecturer who knows you well is a good alternative option.


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Speak to the person before you give their details

Make sure the person you want to refer you knows that they will be contacted. While you may have had a great work relationship, not everyone will be comfortable giving a reference. Most people will be flattered, but just in case, better check first!

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Make sure their details are up to date

Their name, job title, email address and telephone number must all be correct. Remember, giving over incorrect details will slow down the job offer process for you. Once asked to provide these details, you should provide them promptly — preferably within one to two days.

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Make it easy

Once they have agreed to be your reference, tell them what job you applied for and what skills and qualities you would like them to discuss. A good idea is to give them a copy of your resume to refresh their memory about the projects you worked on and what you achieved.

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Always be polite

If someone says no, thank them for their time and move on. You will find someone else who will be more than happy to act as a reference. You never know when you will come across this person again, so it is important to be professional.

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