5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Job Reference
The perfect job reference focuses on all your positive qualities, achievements, skills, and expertise. You may have all the skills, experience, and knowledge needed for your perfect job, but if you don’t have a great reference to show an employer then you might be at a disadvantage. Some people may have several people to contact who will offer a glowing reference, while others might not be in the same position. Whether you’re applying for your first job or you’re a seasoned job hopper, here are some tips to ensure you find the best possible job reference.
1. Always Ask First
Avoid going ahead and giving out somebody’s details without first giving them a heads up. Even if they’ve written a reference for you before, don’t automatically assume that they’re happy to do it again. Most people appreciate being told in advance out of courtesy, and this can make it more likely that they’ll send an even better reference. At the very least, make sure they know that they might be contacted by the employer regarding a reference.
If you’re not sure how to ask someone to be a reference, simply get in touch to let them know your plans for a new job and ask them upfront whether they would be willing to act as a reference. On the careers advice website Placement, you can read many detailed guides including one about asking someone to be a reference. This could help you to prepare for the conversation in advance or understand what you’re asking for. You can find out more about asking for a reference, as well as the type of references to choose and some sample letters and emails you may wish to use.
2. Choose Somebody Recent
It’s not always possible to find somebody you’ve worked with recently who is willing to give you a reference, but this can certainly help to make the case that you’re the right person for the job. A recent reference means that the employer feels they have up-to-date information about your character and work style, and it enables the person giving the reference to provide accurate details which are not outdated. The ideal option is to choose your most recent employer or manager.
If, for any reason, you cannot get in touch with your most recent manager for a reference, choose the second most recent job you had. You might also wish to ask people you have worked within secondary jobs, part-time roles, or freelancing and consultancy work.
3. Ask Someone Senior
A reference from a senior person is likely to hold more weight than a reference you’ve received from a junior member of staff. You should try to get a reference from somebody you have worked with recently who has also managed you or held a more senior position for you.
If this is your first job or you cannot contact anybody senior, consider whether you can ask a teacher or lecturer if you have studied recently. You can also ask personal friends to give a reference, although these are much less valuable to an employer when deciding whether to hire you. Some employers may specify that they do not want references from personal contacts. If you choose to ask for personal contact, try to find someone who holds a senior position at their workplace or has a job in public service.
4. Consider Why You’re Asking Them to Be a Reference
Knowing exactly why you’re asking someone for a reference can help you to get the best reference for the job. For example, are you asking someone just because they were your manager, or do you really think they will have great things to say about you? Did you learn a lot under their guidance and feel like they can vouch for your skills and competence as a fast learner or creative thinker?
Knowing why you’re approaching someone for a reference can also help you to articulate your message to them better and encourage a glowing reference. Let them know why you’re asking them and be clear about what you’re hoping to get out of it.
5. Get More than One
When you apply for a job, many employers will ask for – or at least give you the option to provide – more than one reference. While this can make the task of finding references harder, it can also improve your chances of getting the perfect reference and landing your dream job.
Many people choose to supply two references to a potential employer, but in some cases, you can give even more than this. If you have the references available and you know they are going to say positive words about you, then it can certainly be helpful to get more than one or two.
Finding the perfect reference can take time, and it can be helpful to consider this aspect of recruitment before you apply for jobs. Certain factors can make your references much more impactful, giving you the best possible chance of getting the job you want.