More and more, employers are looking for job candidates to provide them with references. These can be from previous employers or people who know the candidate well in another capacity. Without a good reference, it can be much harder to find a job.
Job references should contain information about the person’s experience and achievements in their previous working positions. They can also talk about character, personality and other ‘soft skills’ like teamwork, punctuality or reliability. These things will all help when you are looking for work. You can ask people to give you a written reference. Or people can offer to speak to potential employers over the phone or via email about you when it is required.
Why are references important when looking for work?
Either way, good job references are a very powerful tool for a job seeker. This is because they provide third-party evidence about a person’s skills and the ability to do a good job. It’s all very well writing an amazing letter or giving a good interview. To get to the top of the list, you must be able to show that other people rate your services highly too.
Good job references also lists your specific skills and strengths. This can sometimes help you find opportunities that you didn’t know about at first. For instance, you may not get the job you originally wanted when you are looking for work. But if something in your job reference matches a role elsewhere, potential employers could pass your name on as a result.
What makes a good job references?
By law, a previous employer doesn’t have to give you job references unless your contract states that they will. If they do give you one, it must be fair and truthful. You can challenge what someone writes in a reference if you think it is unfair.
Job references can be as brief as stating when you work for them, in which position and for how long. Or it can go into detail about what you did and why you were a good worker. A good reference provides this detail and gives multiple reasons why you would be suitable for the job(s) you are applying for. It also gives a good impression if the person giving you your job reference does so quickly. It should be written using accurate, professional language with no grammar or spelling mistakes. Providing a more professional looking reference will help you look more credible when you are trying to find a job.
Which people should I ask for a job references?
Your reference should help you in your quest to find a job. Therefore, you should choose people who will back up your application and show you in a good light. Try to find people whose opinion will be taken seriously and respected. They should be unbiased and able to talk about you from a professional viewpoint. It’s no good asking your Mother to do it for you!
Here are some people you could ask for a job references:
- Your most recent previous manager, supervisor or employer. This is probably your best bet. However, make sure that they were happy with your work and will give you a positive reference. Ask them to specific examples of when you did well.
- A manager, supervisor or employer from further back. This could be a good option if you don’t want to tell a current employer that you’re looking for work.
- A colleague or co-worker. Someone you have worked with for a long time could be well-placed to speak about your skills and experience. They can also offer insight into your personality and what it’s like to work with you in a team.
- Teachers or course leaders. If you have been on a course, or have recently left college or school, a teacher could give you a good job references. They can talk about your willingness to learn and ability to understand new information.
- Customers and clients. If you have recently done a good job for someone, for instance as a cleaner, hairdresser or builder, ask them for a reference. If they are happy with your work, their story could help you find your next job.
- Volunteer contacts. If you do voluntary work, this can appeal to many employers. Ask fort a reference to show your commitment to a project. It can also help you explain what you did to make a difference to the wider community.
What are some other top tips?
Ask several people for job references. This is because you may need to give different types of references for different opportunities while looking for work. Some people respond to you more quickly than others. You don’t want to have your job search delayed while someone takes longer to write a reference. Another idea is to ask friends for a personal reference to help you find a job if you wish. This shows more about your personality and could be useful for customer-facing jobs. Try and get an idea about what the person is going to write about you first, though, so you can plan how they can help you find a job.
If you are trying to find a job where you already know people, ask them for help. Many employers take more notice of internal recommendations. Finally, if someone asks you for a job reference, give them the best review you can. You never know when you might need them to return the favour.