Did you know that as many as three in five employers (62 per cent) have contacted a reference who had negative things to say about the candidate?

You may think that references are just an administrative hoop to jump through, but negative references have resulted in candidates being taken out of the running and even rescinded job offers.

A thorough reference checker won’t just be looking to confirm employment dates; he or she will drill down into your key achievements, your strengths, weaknesses, how you brought value to the team, communication skills, work ethic and more!

So before you hand over that list of contact numbers, spend a bit of time considering who should be a reference for you and how you can prep them so there won’t be any surprises later on.

Who Can be a Reference for You?

  • Past managers and supervisors*
  • Clients and business partners
  • Peers – these should be used sparingly, and only if they can truly speak to work you did together
  • Direct reports – if you’re a manager, sometimes employers request references from those who reported into you
  • Personal – if you have little working experience, sometimes you’ll need to use personal references. These should still lean towards the professional; so think professors, mentors, volunteer supervisors etc.

*Do not list any current managers unless they are aware of your job search and have agreed to be a reference.

How to Prepare Your References

  • Make sure they approve of you using them as a reference
  • Let them know when they should expect a reference call, who from and the main points of the role you are applying for
  • Remind your reference of any key achievements from your time working together that they should highlight
  • Don’t forget to thank them after!

A glowing reference can really add that extra bit of “oomph” to your candidacy so don’t waste a great opportunity.