Whether writing your cv or filling in an application form for a new job, the references you give are extremely influential to your potential employer. Although they may not seem as important as qualifications, previous work experience and the interview itself, the words of academic or professional referees could be the difference between success and failure when finding employment.
It is essential to give considerable thought to those who can establish an impression of your credibility and respect with potential employers. When choosing your references, always assume they will be followed up. Often, employers will check your references towards the end of the selection process, so it may be the last impression they have of you before making their decision.
An academic reference is typically a personal tutor or University lecturer. They need to know you well enough to be able to comment on your character and personal attributes, as well as your academic qualities and results e.g. degree standard. It is important that, like anything else on your cv, this information is up-to-date and relevant. For example, choosing a tutor you haven’t seen in years or knew fleetingly wouldn’t be beneficial. They are unlikely to be able to comment on your recent development without making assumptions that could be damaging. The more current and factual information your referee has on you, the more they can pass on to your potential employer. Try to ensure that your academic referee has a copy of your cv so they can draw on facts when they are contacted by the potential employer. Facts are always of greater value to employers than opinion.
A professional reference is generally somebody you have worked for in the past and who can give some information on your ability to do a job well. An employer is likely to ask them about:
This will give your potential employer a good idea of what you are like in a professional capacity. This is important information to employers, as the more knowledge they can gain from somebody who has experience of working with you within a professional environment, the better.
Always ensure that your referee has as many positive facts about you as they can. The more positive and experienced based information they can give any potential employer, the greater your chance of resonating with them.
Referees are a vital part of your application or cv. Having a good reference from a credible source can be the ‘cherry on top’ for employers, and could encourage them to choose you over others in what is a very competitive market’¦