So you’re in the market for a new job? From perfecting your CV to honing your interview skills, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances of securing your dream job. Part of your job search preparation should be making sure you avoid the most common job references mistakes made by job hunters.
Obtaining references is a critical stage of the recruitment process. References give employers confirmation of a potential candidate’s competency and work ethics. Although despite understanding the importance and value of references, we come across the same common mistakes time and again.
Why do job references matter if you’ve already been offered a job?
When a UK employer makes a job offer, it is usually conditional upon receiving satisfactory references and background checks. This means that even if you sail through the interview process confidently, if your references don’t stack up, the employer can rescind their offer.
The Five Most Common Job References Mistakes
So before you embark on your job search, take a look at these following five common job reference blunders and how to avoid them:
1 – Putting ‘references available on request’ on your CV
It’s a given that references will be available on request so stating this on your CV is a waste of valuable page space. Wait until you are asked for details before providing reference details and instead put this space to better use.
Besides, the human resources team at your new company should never ask an existing employer for references upon receiving your CV. To do so could wave a red flag to your manager that you are looking for a new job which is entirely unethical.
2 – Failing to ask permission
Whenever you give someone’s details as a reference, it is common courtesy to ask their permission. Not only that but by not giving your references a heads up, could catch them unawares. Of course, this shouldn’t result in a bad reference. However, it could result in any comments they make about you not being quite as favourable as you expect.
For this reason, only once someone has agreed to give you a reference you should you provide their contact details on a reference list.
3 – Bad choice of referees
It’s worth remembering that your previous employers don’t have to give you a reference. However, any reference they do provide should be fair and accurate. Keep in mind that the whole purpose of providing a potential employer with references is that it works in your favour. You should, therefore, think carefully about who’s details you give as referees. As a rule, your present employer should be the first references you provide. Not doing so could raise a red flag to potential hiring managers that you may be a bad hire.
Apart from your present employer, If you think that individual might have any reason to portray you in a negative light, don’t use them. It is perfectly normal to list personal as well as professional references. Although any personal references you choose should be someone who knows you in a professional capacity, rather than one of your best friends!
4 – Not keeping up to date
It’s important to check the dates of any references you give. Firstly and most obviously to check that the dates of employment you provide stack up with what previous employers stay.
Additionally, to make sure references are relevant. For example, your boss during a period of work experience at high school might be credible if you’re seeking your first job. However, if you’ve had twenty year’s experience since then, you should be able to provide a more recent referee.
Generally speaking, employers want references to provide an accurate account of your recent work history. Therefore, references should be people you have worked with within the last five to seven years. Any references dating back further than this may work against you as it suggests that no one can vouch for your recent skills or reliability.
Of course, there will be times when the length of your employment spans longer than this. In this case, it’s a good idea to seek out professionals who can provide a character reference.
5 – Failing to provide all the relevant details of your references
Simply providing a potential employer with the name and phone number of a referee is not sufficient. Giving such incorrect details can make you appear careless and sloppy.
Therefore, before providing your references’ details, ensure they include the following information:
- The contact’s full name
- Their current job title
- The company name and postal address
- Correct contact information, including telephone number and email address
- Employment dates, course dates or details of how long the referee has known you
A Final Word on References
Lastly, but by no means least; always remember to thank your references for their help. After all, good references are extremely valuable and you never know when you might need their help again in future. Hopefully, if you don’t make any of the above job references mistakes, you won’t need them for some time to come.
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