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Tips on selecting referees

After a successful interview, a good reference check can cement the hiring manager’s decision on the job offer. Employers are interested to know how you performed in previous roles as evidence of how you do in future roles – and referees are the best source for this information.
 
But it can be tricky deciding who should act as a referee. Here are our eight tips on selecting and preparing referees:
 
1. Your referee must be aware that you are giving their details to an employer. It’s unprofessional and unfair to provide a referee’s details without their consent and you might jeopardise your chances of getting a good reference.
 
2. Inform the referee beforehand what the role is, that way they can tailor their reference depending on what skills and responsibilities need highlighting.
 
3. Put forward a former colleague or employer. If the interviewer wants a personal reference they will request it, but usually they require a professional one.
 
4. Choose someone who will give you a positive reference. Don’t select someone purely on the basis of either superiority or how close you were to them. A supervisor who you worked closely with, for example, will know more about you than a manager you had little contact with. Likewise, a colleague you’re close with may know you well, but probably isn’t in the best position to be your referee.
 
5. The way your referee communicates will reflect on you. Someone who can speak or write with credibility and confidence will enhance your positive reference.
 
6. Keep your referee in the loop with your job search. They should know when their services will be required. This also means you’ll be aware of any contact detail changes, which you can then pass on to the hiring manager. If a referee can’t be easily contacted, employers might think you have given them false information or may give up trying to get hold of them. If possible, provide two contact numbers and an email address.
 
7. If you can, choose a referee who will almost always be contactable. If an employer is on a tight schedule and can’t get hold of your referee quickly, it could impact on your chances.
 
8. After your interview inform your referees that they may be contacted soon. It will give them time to prepare the reference.
 
Save room on your CV for valuable information by writing “references available on request” at the end, instead of including your referees here. This also means you can decide which referee is most suitable for supplying a reference for each role.
 
Don’t forget to thank your referees, when they accept and when they provide the reference.
 
Did our tips on selecting referees help you secure the role? Take a look at more Michael Page career advice.