The Power of Your Referees

Let's start with a small but extremely important thing...

Never put the names of referees in your resume. Your referees are very valuable and must only be called at the final stage of the recruitment process. That is, when it's important and you are likely to be offered the job if they say good things about you. 

Always advise them when you have given their name to an employer so they are informed about who is calling and what the job is so they have time to think about it. Of course it’s just plain good manners.

Recruitment agents particularly need to be watched on poor reference behaviour. Some of the laziest call referees before bothering to interview you. They can learn a lot about you with little effort but at your referee's expense - which is really your expense as referee time is a finite resource.

When this happens to me, I’ll reconsider my offer to be your referee. I do a fair amount of refereeing having had large teams for many years, so I need to protect my time. It also means you probably ignored my advice to read my books or this resource - your real crime!

So, don't give employers or recruiters their names until you are ready and have cleared for them to call. And at this stage, give them more than just a name: all phone numbers, email, current job, job title when you worked with them, plus a very brief description of who the referee is and how they know you. 

At this stage of the process, speed and effectiveness are important. So, have an email draft with all this information included ready to send.

Choosing Referees

The most valuable is, of course, a recent boss. Second to that, someone who has worked with you for a couple of years is good. 

Relatives or family friends are out unless this is your first job (then you should be reading my other book Landing Your Dream Job, available on Amazon). Their bias is obvious, and their perspective of you is limited in an employment sense.

If you have any doubt about a referee being positive, don't use them. You are not required to offer negative referees – why do that to yourself?

In summary, when selecting your referees...

  1. Always think about whether they can say something positive about you before including them

  2. Select people who are in positions of authority where possible

  3. Always ask permission to have them on your list

  4. Let them know when they might expect a call - attach the job description or a link to the relevant job ad when you do

  5. Do this for every job application

  6. Remember, apply for jobs selectively and carefully - too many random applications and you'll start to lose your referees

This is the 5th resource from the 'Over 45s Job Readiness Tool Kit', provided by the new Community, Stable and Wise. As you already know, the Kit provides training programs, expert career guidance, and local area buddy groups, with a Resource every day for the next 3 months...

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