Choosing Referees for your Résumé or Job Application

When preparing a Professional Résumé you should always include 2-3 referees who can speak on your behalf about your work performance, skills and accomplishments.  In a perfect world you would choose your most recent manager or supervisor but this is often not possible, so here are five important questions to consider when choosing a referee.

  1. What does the job posting ask for? Does the job listing request a current supervisor? Are personal references allowed? Can referees from volunteer organisations and special interest groups be included?
  2. Are they your champion? Will they say positive things about you? Did you have a great working relationship? Would they hire you again? Did you leave on good terms? Do they know your unique skills and abilities? Are they a good communicator?
  3. Are they relevant? Were they your direct manager or supervisor? Can they vouch for your work performance? Did you work together in a role similar to the job you are applying for?
  4. Are they recent? How long ago did you work together? Are they still working for the same company? Are they still working in the same job role?
  5. Are they available? Do you have their current contact details? Are they easy to contact? Are they only available on certain days or at specific times? Are they away on holidays or on sick leave? Have they retired or sold the company?

The best referee to use is someone who worked with you closely, is still in the same job role and is aware of your unique skills and abilities. They should be easy to contact and able to relate your work performance to the skills and competencies outlined in the job listing. Though they might be a recent manager or supervisor, they could also be a customer, sub-contractor or supplier.

This blog is an introduction to an eight-part series exploring in detail how to leverage the  referees listed on your résumé as part of a job-winning strategy. Recent studies indicate that recruiters discount on average 21% of preferred candidates after speaking with listed referees, so make yours count.

© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine

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