When adding referees to your résumé or listing someone as a reference in a job application, make sure you contact them before submitting to a prospective employer. Even if the person acting as a job reference is your very best friend you should always notify them in advance for the following reasons:-
- Permission: The most important part of securing a great referee is to get their permission. If you list someone without contacting them first you may end up being dismissed as a suitable candidate after an unplanned phone call from a recruiter turns awkward. Your former co-woker may now be working late shifts and doesn’t want to be called during the day when they are trying to sleep or maybe you previous boss is going through a difficult divorce and just doesn’t want to be bothered. You only want referees who are going to speak about you in glowing terms so make sure they know in advance.
- Availability: You should make sure that the person acting as your referee is going to be available at the right time. Your old boss might be very happy to be a referee but what if they are getting married, retiring, or on holidays hiking through Tasmania? It doesn’t look good if the recruiter tries to call (and they will) and your referees can’t be found. If there are only certain times they can be contacted because they are a FIFO (fly-in fly-out) worker or are located in an area with limited mobile coverage, you should note this on your résumé and the covering letter.
- Contact Details: A referee may not want want to disclose their mobile phone or a private landline so be sure to check the best contact number. Also make sure all the digits are correct.
- Requirements: If you are applying for a specific job it’s useful to tell your referee in advance the types of questions they might be asked. Imagine you worked as a PA (personal assistant) while completing your economics degree and now you’re applying for your first role as a professional accountant. You might ask your former boss to focus on your attention to detail and accuracy rather than how fast you can type.
- Professionalism: If you have contacted your referees in advance it demonstrates planning and that you genuinely care about getting a job. You may be perceived by a recruiter as careless and unorganised if they contact one of your references and it is obvious the contact has come as a complete surprise.
Remember that the sole reason a recruiter will contact your referees is to help them decide if they want to hire you. Make sure the references you list on your résumé and in all job applications are going to improve your chances of landing that dream role.
© Melinda J. Irvine