Things you need to know about references!

References on a CV
So you’ve got your references, how do you show them off? Not on your CV that’s for sure. At the end of your CV just put, “references available on request”.

Then put all your references on a separate page ready to send off to employers when they ask for it.
Remember to always ask your references how they’d prefer to be contacted as everyone will want to give their statement differently. Some won’t want you giving out their phone number, while others will want their email address to remain private instead.

What is a job reference?
References are the names and contact details of people who know you. They allow your future employer to check you’ve not only worked where you said you did, but that you’re also a good employee too.

The number of references you’ll be expected to provide will differ with every company, but it’s always good to have at least two.

Can an employer give a bad reference?
Yes and no. Many people mistakenly believe that your boss can’t give you a bad reference by law, but that’s not entirely true…

References just have to be accurate and truthful so if you were disciplined at your last job then they could include that on your reference. However, many employers are scared to give bad references because anything considered to be not 100% accurate could be grounds for legal action. If you find out that you have been unfairly given a bad reference then you could possibly sue.

Employer refuses to give reference: what to do?
If an employer refuses to give you a reference then it may ring warning bells in the ears of your new boss. However, some companies are increasingly refusing to give references because they’re worried about legal action.

Usually you will need to provide 1-2 work references and a personal reference – so choose that person carefully! If the company is satisfied by the majority of your references then they may not argue about one being refused.

Does my employer have to give me a reference?
In a word, no.

Your former employer is under NO legal obligation to give you a reference.
Also, if they DO decide to give you a reference, then there’s no rule about how long or detailed it has to be.

Who can be a character reference?
Many candidates ask themselves “Who do I approach for references?”

Good referees tend to be people who have been relatively close to you as you’ve grown up. So typically, this might be a neighbour or family acquaintance that you’ve got a positive relationship with.

Held a trusted position in your local community? Employers will definitely be impressed by that. Roles like scout leader, junior council member or sports coach are all great examples as it shows a good and practical attitude.

Similarly, if you have had any casual work or taken part in volunteer schemes for school, these are superb people to ask for personal references.

The key here is to select someone who has a genuinely positive impression of you as a person.

If this is your first job, you’ll need to provide two personal references instead. Try and pick someone who can give an unbiased character reference, such as previous teachers or lecturers who can vouch for your school work and your general attitude.

What is a personal reference?
When pursuing that very first job, it can be hard to have many (if any) professional references to call on. So many employers will accept personal or ‘character’ references, instead, which are written to endorse you as an individual.

What should a personal reference say?
A personal reference is a chance to describe your in more detail than your CV or cover letter. So it needs to focus more on your character, attitude and personal skills rather than work.

Your referee should address it to the employer’s name if specified, otherwise “To whom it may concern” is a typical standard. Then they should explain how they know you and for how long.

The reference should then elaborate about your relevant skills – perhaps in communication, aptitude, responsibility and general personality. It could also briefly suggest why these qualities would be valuable to their business.

Referees should be open to further questions, and provide contact details before signing the reference accordingly.

People you shouldn’t ask for a reference
The first rule for a personal reference is they can’t be a direct family member.

This is because a personal reference needs to be as independent as possible under the circumstances. Clearly your mum or dad has a vested (and most probably financial) interest in furthering your career, which affects the impact of their testimonial.

Additionally, you shouldn’t ask people who barely know you for a personal reference.

Although they might have your best intentions at heart and feel confident enough in their assertions, their lack of real depth can prove problematic.

If the tone feels vague or generic then the employer will sense it, while any attempt to bluff or guess details could come back to haunt you later.
How to approach a reference?
So you’ve decided who you want as a reference, but how do you ask them?

It’s always best if you drop a potential reference an email first, and only phone them as a follow up if they don’t get back to you.

Not everyone will have time or even want to give you a reference, so an email gives them some time to mull it over first.

But if you’re feeling confident and believe they won’t say no, then give them a call.

Although you should only really take this approach if you know them really well, had a good working relationship or just need an answer quickly.

However you choose to ask them, remember your manners. Being rude when you’re asking for something that could land you a job probably isn’t the best idea.

When is the best time to ask for a reference?
It’s always good to ask for someone to be your reference as soon as possible, preferably while you’re still on the job hunt.

The more notice you give people the better, as not only will you avoid rushing around at the last minute, but your references will also have more time to prepare their statement.

If you do ask them way in advance, contact them again when you’ve got an interview to warn them they may be contacted for a reference.

Whenever you ask them, make sure you get their permission first before you start listing their contact details.

Don’t assume you’ll get a reference as employers have no legal obligation if they don’t want to. Even if they do reluctantly decide to give you a reference there’s still no rule about how long or detailed it has to be.

What if this is my first job?
If you don’t have a previous employer then provide two personal references instead. You could also include your teacher or a lecturer at university who can vouch for your school work.

Article courtesy of Total Jobs