Career Advice

Selecting and Preparing References

References play a crucial role in your job search by representing you to a prospective employer. What they say can make or break your chances of securing your next role, so it is critical that you choose the right people, maintain the relationships and properly brief them on the roles you apply for. Read the tips below to ensure you obtain the best possible references.

Choosing Your References

It is important to have a strong collection of current, relevant references on hand to support you in your job search. Choose references who:
  • You have worked with closely within the last five years.
  • Are fully aware of your strengths and will speak highly of you.
  • Can verify and discuss your skills, experience and abilities in detail.
Such people could be past or current managers, managers from other departments with whom you’ve worked closely, external clients, suppliers or colleagues. Be sure to get their permission before listing them as references and check that their titles and contact details are correct and up-to-date.

Briefing Your References

You should properly prepare your references so they are in a strong position to give you a positive reference. Let them know that you are job hunting and will contact them when a reference is required. When that time comes, provide them with a description of the role you have applied for and details on who will be contacting them and when.

You may want to share your thoughts on how your experience and personal attributes are relevant to the new role. This allows the reference to reinforce aspects of your past performance that will show you in the best light.

Maintaining Your References

It is important to keep in regular contact with your references so that the relationship remains strong. Keep them informed on your job search activities and be sure to express your appreciation for the time they put into your recommendations, regardless of the outcome. Let them know when you secure a role and remain in contact to update them on your progress.

It’s a good idea to make sure your references don’t contradict your resume. For more advice, see our tips to writing a winning resume.