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Job Referees – Etiquette 101

Are you about to land your dream job? Chances are your prospective employer will ask you to provide them with the contact details of a referee or two before a formal job offer is made.

Here are some tips to navigate this stage of the recruitment process with professionalism and poise. Oh, and these tips should help you land the job too!

Who makes a compelling referee?

The best referees are those who can provide a detailed account of your past experience. That means former managers, team leaders, supervisors, mentors, clients and vendors.

Colleagues and team mates can also be provided but will struggle to talk to your ability to follow direction and instruction and perhaps other aspects of your work performance too.

If you don’t have much or any industry experience, consider providing your teacher, School Principal,  lecturer, tutor, intern supervisor, PhD supervisor or relevant examiners.

Top Referee Tips

  • Choose people who you have worked for in the past. These people need to have overseen your work or been close enough to you in the workplace to know how you performed in the workplace.
  • When choosing between referees, go with referees who have worked with you in the most similar role to the role you are being interviewed for. Also, try to provide referees for your last 2 or 3 roles. Where you are not able to provide a referee for a recent role, always explain why.  
  • Make sure you give your referee a courtesy call before you provide their details to your prospective employer. It is common courtesy to let them know to expect a call.

In that courtesy call, let your referee know who they can expect a call from (if you know this info), the role you are applying for and the key capabilities the client is looking for.

It is also a good idea to clarify the best contact number to reach them on and whether there are any days or times that might be difficult for them to talk (or better yet, the best time for the company to call them).

  • Provide a referee who you know will give you a glowing reference

I strongly advise that you don’t provide the details of someone as your referee when you don’t know what they are going to say about you! I have conducted many a reference check over the years where the referee seems very puzzled as to why the candidate would have provided them and has gone on to provide very poor feedback on that employee’s performance. Awkward!

  • Let your referee know how you go with the role

It is highly professional to follow up after the client has spoken with your referee to thank them for taking the time to do so. Let them know if you get the job too!

When to provide referee details   

It is common practice to provide referee details at the point you are shortlisted for a role or when the client requests specific referee details. You don’t need to include reference details on their resume when you apply for a role, unless there are specific instructions to do so.

Most people list something like “Referee details provided on request” under the References section of their resume.

Need help getting your resume and social media accounts up to standard before you apply for your dream job? I can help. Get in touch.

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