Resume Tips: Referees Are Powerful Advocates of You

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Welcome to Part 5 of our Resume Tips:

Most companies will request referees. They may or may not approach them however you want to be ready for the instances they do approach them. Some companies move faster than others, so it’s best to be prepared. 

Choosing the right person as a referee

Your referees are contacted by a potential future employer to validate your skills, your experience, your cultural fit and willingness to work. They are an important step in securing your next role and you must select them with care. 

Your referees must be powerful advocates of you.

Referees respond to a series of questions around your willingness to take on extra responsibility, how you worked in a team, your performance and results. They could provide information on your adaptability, your flexibility, thirst for responsibility, your ability to receive feedback. They may even be asked to provide feedback on your areas of growth or development. All of these insights are valuable in the ‘reference check’ part of the recruitment process. Reference checkers are looking for information that will identify how well you will work in their business, what you will bring, what you need to be taught and how you will settle into the culture. As one of the final parts of the recruitment process, you may be the only person being reference checked, or there may be a few of you, who are tightly ranked as finalist for a role. So now you can see why it is so important to select your referees with care.

Who to pick as your referee

In the final stages of the hiring process, you may be asked to provide two or three referees. Always include at least one person who you have directly reported to, who can provide feedback on you as a person they managed regularly on their team. This referee will likely be the most important person to be contacted. They have a close working relationship with you so will be able to best answer questions regarding your on-the-job performance.

You can also include someone you reported to in a dotted line. That means they may not have managed you day to day, but they have worked with you indirectly or on a project, so can comment on your output, your team work, your leadership etc. 

Who to avoid as a referee

If you are unsure about using someone as a referee either talk to them to clarify any concerns you may have. If in doubt exclude them. A bad referee will not present you in a good light and will very likely limit you chances of a job offer. 

Contacting your referees

When you have decided on your referees, it’s good manners to let them know they may be contacted by a certain company. If possible, let your referees know the name of the company, the name of the person who may be contacting them, how they may contact them (phone or email) and if at all possible, share some key requirements of the role. If your referee can talk to some of these key points when contacted,  they will further demonstrate why you are the right person for the job. 

Pre-written references:

Pre-written reference aren’t very common these days. If you have pre-written reference I’d recommend including it with your original application for the role. It is always warming to read positive recommendations from previous employers. They must be current in order to be regarded as relevant, so ensure they are from one of your more recent roles. If the reference comes from one of the referees listed on your resumes, they most likely will still be contacted to validate authenticity, so again ensure they are prepared.

That concludes our Resume Tips Series. If you found it helpful, or would like add your thoughts please post a comment below.

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