References and referees are often forgotten about. When you have spent hours reducing your CV to two pages and honing your cover letter, they often fall by the wayside. But referees are important; you mustn’t forget about them.
References can make or break it for you, so make sure you have put plenty of thought into who you are asking. You don’t want to provide a referee thinking they are going to do you right, only to find out you didn’t get the job because they provided you a less than glowing reference.
Professional resume writers will tell you, having no referees is not an option. If I ask you for your referenced and you can’t provide me with them, I won’t be employing you.
I would be immediately suspicious that you had done something terrible in your previous role, or that you weren’t very likable and had no one to ask.
Not being able to provide references does not look good, and it puts to waste all the hard work you put into getting the interview.
If someone has never been a referee before, make sure they know what they are getting into and the information they will need to provide. Send them some good reference examples so they can have a read and prepare themselves.
Who can be a personal reference for a job?
Anyone who knows you well and in a more professional setting can be a personal reference for you. But don’t be tempted to include close friends or family.
For a start, they will be hugely biased and probably won’t provide the sort of reference you are after. Secondly, interviewers may well look you up on social media, and it will soon become apparent if you have used your BFF as a referee. So, you have a few options here, and these are the main ones:
• Current or former managers
• Former co-workers
• Clients or customers
• Organisations you have volunteered for
Can you use a teacher as a job reference?
Of course – teachers are an excellent option for referees if you don’t have any professional ones you can use. For example, if you are a school leaver and you are yet to gain professional experience, teachers can provide a more ‘professional’ insight into what you are like to work with.
Most teachers are more than willing to provide you with a reference, and many will offer to do so when you leave education. If possible, make sure you select a teacher who knows you well and didn’t just see you in detention a couple of times a year.
One final thing – don’t forget to always check with the person you are using as a referee before you put their contact details down. You don’t want them to be surprised when they receive a reference request from an employer. It also gives them a bit of time to think about what they will include in the reference and mull over how amazing your personality is.