References are an important aspect of gaining new employment. It’s important to know who to get a reference from and how to get one.
A reference is an individual that prospective employers can contact to verifying the information presented on your CV. This is commonly a previous employer and, in some cases, a connection you have who is in an esteemed position and able to provide a character reference.
Your reference will usually provide written confirmation of details such as your title and start and end dates of employment. This can also be done over the phone.
Most employers prefer you to have two reliable references though each role and employer is different. It is however considered good practice to have at least two references at the ready.
Employers are trying to gain the most unbiased view of your personality and professionalism. For this reason, this makes anyone from your old boss, colleague, or client as good option for a reference. You’ll want to avoid using references such as family members as it may be difficult to remain unbiased.
If you’ve never been in employment before, you can also ask a former mentor, tutor, or professor to be your reference. You should choose references that you trust and can ensure will want to give you a glowing reference to your prospective new employer.
It is against the law for a reference to be untruthful. However, if there are necessary incidents that your reference sees fit to include, for example, any disciplinaries that your previous employer can provide evidence for, these may present themselves as a “bad reference.”
You should always ask permission before making someone a reference. Not only is this common courtesy, but it also gives these individuals advance notice to prepare what they would like to say about you.
There is generally no requirement to have your references on your CV before you reach the interview stage. You can however provide the name and contact details of your references at the end of your CV. You also have the option to simply state “References are available on request.”
For more tips on writing your CV, check out our spotlight on CV writing tips!