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Preparing Your Referees

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by Catherine Kennedy

3 months ago

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So you’ve got through a few rounds of interviews, and your prospective new employer has asked to speak with your referees, so you are in serious contention for getting this new role. You are 90% of the way there to having that dream new job, but please DON’T under estimate the importance of this stage. In more than a decade as a recruiter, I have seen many instances where things have fallen over at reference checking stage, so I wanted to give you some tips to make sure this important stage goes smoothly.

Select your referees carefully
Employers will want to speak with someone to whom you have directly reported, or at a minimum who has had responsibility to overseeing your work. Do not give a colleague or a personal friend, the referee needs to be able to speak to your experience and capacity in your prior role so they need to have had full sight of that.

Make sure you ask them, and advise them if a call is imminent
At people2people, we will never contact your referee without asking for your permission first. You want your referee to give you the best possible reference, so make sure they have time to get their thoughts in order. Before starting your job search, ask if they are happy to act as your referee, and then call them to let me know you are reference stage, and that they should expect a call. There have been a number of times in my career when I have been caught off guard to give a reference for a past employee, and having not had the time to reflect on their experience, I am sure I have not given as good a reference as I could have.

Give them some context
Give your referee some context about the role you are applying for. IF they know the core elements of the role you are seeking, they will be able to highlight those aspects of your experience most strongly. I’ve seen many occasions where a positive reference has been thing that has got a person across the line over the competition (or not) so prepare your referees well to give yourself the best shot!
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