How to choose the most effective references for your CV
Adding references to your CV is typically something that takes about 30 seconds. You just pick a couple of your old managers and add their details to your CV and job done right? Wrong!
Choosing the very best references to help you with a new job is a much more thoughtful process than most people believe, so here’s some of our best tips to get you started…
Choose a reference who relates to the new role
Ideally you want to always choose someone that works or has worked in the same industry, or who has experience in a similar role to the one you are applying for. The new employer wants to see a reference who has something in common with them, and if they decide to contact them will be able to speak on the same level.
Rather than simply choosing someone who will speak highly of you and give you a great reference, you need to select much more wisely and imagine how much better it would be if your reference was able to relate to the new role.
Choose a reference who you worked closely with
If you decide to select your manager from a previous or current role who you don’t interact with a great deal, then you will most likely end up with a very vague or generic reference. The hiring manager will easily spot when a reference is struggling to give accurate feedback, and it can also be interpreted in another way.
For example, the hiring manager might feel that your reference is not giving much information because they don’t feel like you performed well – even if this isn’t the case!
Choosing someone who knows you very well and has spent many hours interacting with you, is going to be able to provide you with a great reference. Don’t forget, your reference doesn’t have to be the CEO of the company. Choosing a great reference isn’t about how high up the chain you can go.
Always ask for permission and prep your reference beforehand
You want your reference to not only be on board with your plan for a new role, but to also be aware of who might be contacting them. If your reference is happy to have their name on your CV, then you are making it much more likely that your reference will be positive about you.
Once they’ve agreed you can now prep them for the possibility of being contacted. Let them know who might be contacting you and what they are looking for. Don’t forget that your old boss might not be able to remember all of the great things you did, so it’s much easier to remind them, and of course be specific in relations to the possible new role.
However, don’t mistake coercing your reference into saying what you want them to say and what you are both agreeing on. These are of course two very different things, and you want to attempt to work with your reference so that you can both decide on what you would like to be highlighted.
Don’t forget the details
Now that you’ve selected some great references, don’t forget to include their current up to date details, including contact telephone number and e-mail. It may also be important to confirm what days and times they are available in case they are unavailable – they may be going on holiday for example.