Referees are a list of people that can confirm your experience, abilities and skills. Potential employers need to know that you are suitable for the job, and one of the ways you can prove this is by providing referees. During the recruitment process, hiring managers may contact your referees to learn more about how you perform in a professional capacity. They will ask questions about your skills and work ethic to find out if you are right for the position, so it is crucial to choose your referees wisely.
Each employer has a different process. Some may ask for referees with your resume when you apply, while others may request your referees once you have completed a phone screening or in-person interview. The people you list should be reliable and know you on a professional level so that they can promote your positive work attributes to potential employers.
How Many Referees to Include: The number of referees to include on your resume will depend on two factors- the role you are applying for and the amount of experience you have, but in some cases, employers may ask you for a specific number of referees. The recommendation is to list between two to four referees.
List the Main Referees First: There are times when the employer only contacts one or two of your referees, so it’s best to hone your list to your most relevant and valuable referees at the top. Supplying additional referees can still be useful as this will mean the employer has a wide choice of people to contact if one or two of them are unavailable.
What Referees to Include: Ideally your references need to be individuals who know how you work and are familiar with your professional qualities and skills. Choose people who can speak about the skills you have that are specific to the role you are applying for.
Some of the best professional references to include are:
- Your current or former direct supervisor or manager (the more recent the better)
- Your current or former employees if you have experience in a managerial role
- Your long-term clients or suppliers if you are a business owner
- A professional mentor or clinical facilitator from an educational course that is relevant to the position you are applying for
Contact Your Referees Beforehand: Make sure the people you ask are comfortable with being your referee and that they consent to you supplying their name and contact details. By getting in contact with your referee, it also allows them a chance to expect and prepare for a call from the employer and tailor their responses to the position under consideration.
When to Include a Character Referee: A character referee should only be used if you are new to the work environment or have limited work experience. This type of referee provides an idea of your ethics, how you approach challenges and your general disposition, so they are generally not required if you have work related referees that you can use.
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