I remember going to an interview once and they asked me what my current boss would say in my reference, I replied, he’d say “you can’t have her, I don’t want her to leave”. They laughed.

A few months later, my new boss came to me and said “you were right, that’s exactly what your old boss said” Job references are important in many ways, firstly they validate what you’ve said in your interview and they can show the real you.

It’s worth putting in some thought as to who you’re going to ask to be your reference. Most of us go for a couple of people we’ve worked with, who we know will say lovely things about us, but whilst you want your referees to say how amazing you are, it’s worth taking it to the next level.

Try and have a selection of referees, who you can call on depending on the type of job you’re applying for. If it’s someone who’s well respected in the industry you want to go into, then even better! Generally, employers ask for two types of references, someone you work / have worked for and someone who can act as a character reference.

Take the time to explain to the person giving you the reference, what the job is, why you want it and how your skillset suits it. Show them the job description, that way, they can mirror some of the keywords used. Make sure your referee is aware of what stage you are in the interview process and whether they are likely to be contacted. Also confirm with them that they are happy to be contacted and which method they prefer. Afterwards make sure you take the time to thank them.

References need to be a true depiction of what you are capable of, so never ask someone to lie on your behalf!

Employers don’t have to give you a reference, but any they do provide, should be fair and accurate. Some employers may only provide a basic one, which states the dates you were employed, job title and salary.

Some people think that it looks too vague to put “references on request”, but I think it’s generally accepted as some people are naturally cautious about referees being approached without their consent. If one of your referees is your current employer, then rest assured that a potential employer cannot approach them without your consent.

A reference cannot contain any personal information or any form of speculation, it should only focus on your abilities and aptitude for the job. You can ask for a copy of the reference, but this request should be made in writing.

If you think an unfair reference has been made, then you can seek legal advice and if someone lies on your behalf on a job reference then a job offer can be revoked.


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