otential employers often requite job candidates to provide references from previous employers or acquaintances to ascertain their suitability for a particular position and to establish if they will fit in. This could be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job so it is vital that you get it right.
Crucial to the process is selecting the right referees. Obviously you are not going to choose someone with whom you have come into conflict or is unlikely to be flattering, so you must carefully analyse likely referees before putting their names forward. Remember, though former employers are not permitted by law to make slanderous comments, a simple statement of your performance could be interpreted negatively, so ensure that he or she was satisfied with your work and actually liked you.
You may also consider using a trusted colleague for a reference. In this case, it is of little value if that colleague is at the same level as you. It will carry much more weight if the colleague is senior to you and had a supervisory role or worked closely with you.
If you have not been employed before or your relationship with former employers will mean that they will give you a poor reference, then you might ask acquaintances to help. The best people to ask are those in positions of authority or of status in the community. Teachers, church ministers, prominent businessmen and the like make excellent referees and their comments will carry far more weight than those of, say, an old friend or neighbour.
Social networking sites like LinkedIn can also be of help. It is always use, for example, to get endorsements from those you have worked with before. These will be of great benefit to the potential employer, as they will give a broader picture of your personality and abilities. Also, if you have provided a glowing reference for someone in the past, ask them to reciprocate – a degree of mutual admiration does no harm when you are looking for a job, provided that it is not overdone.
In all cases, however, before putting someone forward as a referee make sure that you ask for their permission first. Some may not want to do it and others may be precluded by the terms of their current employment. Either way you will have wasted everybody’s time and will make the employer less sympathetic to your application. Asking first is also wise because you can let the referee know the type of job you are applying for so that reference can be tailored accordingly.
Finally, and very important, make sure that you thank your referees for their time and effort. Let them know that if the situation is reversed then you will be glad to help them. And remember that one day you may need their endorsement again at some time in the future, so it’s worth keeping them sweet.
About the author:
My name is Richard Deeley and I am a PR consultant for Randstad Business Support.
Candidates and job seekers have often found that they get poor references
from jobs in administrative positions from research carried out
by the company over the last few years.