The secret to picking the best references for your CV
Choosing the best references for your CV is not as easy as you would first think. Don’t just simply pick your old manager and assume that will do – as it won’t! If you want to provide a prospective employer with the greatest confidence in your ability, follow these great tips…
Choose someone who worked closely with you
Don’t select a reference you barely interacted with. A generic review of your performance is not going to help your cause. Instead, choose a reference who you worked closely with. They are in a better position to give a more detailed and comprehensive reference.
Although you are very unlikely to receive a bad reference, a generic one will say a lot about you. If you choose a manager who you barely ever spoke with, they may not even remember who you are. By providing a generic reference it could make the employer suspicious about your performance.
Select someone who you had constant contact with – a manager or supervisor that gave you monthly appraisals and that you reported directly too. This will give you a far better chance of getting the review that you want.
Can an employer give you a bad reference? If you want to know more about your rights as a worker, please go to Gov.uk for further advice.
Speak with your reference
Before you rush ahead and write down a reference on your CV, you need to first of all get their permission. Letting them know that you are considering them as a reference is a great way to give them a heads up, and to also double check they are happy to do so.
Can you imagine if a new employer contacted your reference and they seemed a little miffed about providing one?!?
Getting permission from your reference means they are onboard, and much more likely to give a great reference. You can also let them know who might be contacting them, and what type of role you’re currently applying for. This may help them to provide the right information, and focus upon important aspects.
Prep your reference
Once you’ve gotten their permission it’s now a great time to provide them with more details about your potential new role. Let them know what the new employer is looking for and what type of reference you would like them to provide.
Of course, you can’t force them to give you a great reference as you want them to be honest. However, you can let them know what ‘type’ of reference they could provide and what they could focus on.
There is no point in your reference providing information which is irrelevant to a potential new employer, and instead you can plan ahead by giving them a heads up as to what they are looking for and what to focus on when providing the reference.
If communication and project management is important for the role you’re applying for, then let your reference know. They can tweak their reference to ensure it covers those points.
Choose a teacher
As a recent school leaver or someone with little work experience you may be struggling to decide who could be your CV reference. Choosing a teacher or former lecturer is always a great idea. They will be able to discuss the projects you worked on and the skills you picked up along the way.
Unless you flunked out of education or had a huge disagreement with your teacher, it’s very unlikely they will give you a bad review. On the contrary, they are more likely to give you a glowing appraisal.
Your teacher will want to see you succeed after you’ve left education, and are the obvious choice for your CV.
If you’ve recently left education and would like some help writing a CV, here’s a fantastic ‘school leavers’ CV template to get you started. Not only do we provide free CV templates for everyone (not just school leavers), we also provide additional CV writing guides. Here are our CV tips for school leavers!