min read

A- A+

How to get the best result from your references

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 13:32
Posted in:

Ask job seekers what they find the most tedious part of the application process and the answer is usually asking for references.

Dreary as the process may seem, having the right people to backup your application is one of the most important elements of the process. Indeed, research shows that 85% of employers check at least one reference before offering a role to a candidate.

As with everything in life, there is a certain knack to collating references that should make the process run smoother for all those involved. Here are our main DOs and DON'Ts for optimum referee management:


Be prepared

Save scratching around at the last minute by beginning the application process with a mental list in place of the people you want to call upon as referees.

Think strategically

Select your referees carefully, choosing those who are best placed to vouch for the skills and attributes that matter most to the decision maker on your application.

Always ask permission from your referees before you put them names forward.

Don't get off on the wrong foot by blindsiding them.

Guide them

Don't just hand referees a blank canvas; let them know what skills and/or experience you'd ideally like them to prioritise. If possible send them a copy of both the job description for the role you are applying for, and your completed application form.


Write 'references available on request' at the bottom of your CV

Either include a separate sheet with all your references on it; include the names and roles of your most important references on your CV; mention your LinkedIn page, complete with recommendations, or leave them out altogether.

Burn your bridges

Use referees from your previous, instead of your current employment or, if necessary, wait until you have a formal job offer before calling on current colleagues.

Leave yourself open

Be upfront with your hiring manager if one of the references they request is likely to reflect negatively on you. Explain the situation and suggest an alternative.

Limit yourself

There's no rule that states your referees need all be employers; consider using clients, business contacts or indeed anyone else who understands who you are and what you're about.

While references might just seem like another hoop to jump through during the application process, the trick is not to see them as an annoyance but rather a valuable asset on your path to getting the job. A little time investment early on could end up proving the difference between you and the next applicant.

Sources: Abintegro,Reference: Harvard Business Review


Hi there, I'm Charlotte and I joined Pearson in September 2017 after graduating from Royal Holloway where I studied French. During my degree I spent a year abroad teaching English and interning at the French parliament. Outside the office I enjoy going to the gym, shopping , visiting museums and going to the cinema with my friends, as well as walking my (not-so-small) puppy, Max!

Disqus post