The best way to choose references for your CV

Woman and man in job interview

Most job seekers make a very simple and quick choice for their references. They jot down a couple of managers from the past and then move onto the more important sections. No thought, no real preparation, but just a quick choice.

Unfortunately there is a lot more too it than that if you want to get ahead of the competition. You could be up against 50, 60 or even 100 other applicants when you send your CV to the hiring manager.

To help you make a better choice of references, here are a few tips…

Choose someone who you worked closely with

Choosing a manager who you barely spoke to as you reference is a bad idea. You may have been a part of a large team that had a manager who overlooked everything. However, that probably also meant they didn’t spend too much one to one time with each employer as it was probably impossible.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to get the highest job title on your CV. But it won’t mean anything if that CEO or Accounts Manager barely had any interaction with you.

Always choose a manager who you had regular contact with, and who worked with you on a day to day basis. They will know you really well and can provide an accurate and comprehensive reference. A generic reference will arouse suspicion and could hinder your chances.

Ask for their permission

This is very important and is something that is often missed. Asking for their permission to be a reference on your CV is extremely important as you don’t want them to be surprised when they get a call.

The process can go one of two ways. Firstly, you could annoy them resulting in a bad reference. Secondly, you could get lucky and get a positive reference but most likely lacking in passion or enthusiasm.

I personally wouldn’t want to go with either of those two options, and that’s why it’s really important to get their permission first. Get them onboard and passionate about providing a glowing reference, and you’re already one step closer.

Prep them before you send your CV

Once you’ve gotten their permission it’s now time to prep them on the role you’re applying for and what’s expected of a candidate. If your reference knows what the new employer is looking for then they can focus their recommendation on those aspects.

Again, you are looking for a non-generic reference and one which shows you have the right tools for a specific job. If great communication skills are important to the new role, then don’t be afraid to emphasise this to your reference. They can then think ahead before they get contacted and already have some great things to say planned out in advance.

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