Quality References, Selecting Your Prime Promoter

So the time has come, you’ve put together a killer CV, aced the online application questions and your prospective employer wants to check your references.

If you followed our advice in our previous article To Reference or Not to Reference, Let’s Finish this Once and for All, you would have removed references off your CV and waited for the employer to ask. Now you know you’re in the hot seat!

But who is the right person to offer up as your reference? What this person says (or doesn't say!) about you can ultimately decide your future, so it’s super important. At Acedit It, we have a few simple yet effective rules to follow when selecting your prime promoter:

1. Make sure they have a connection to the CV you have provided

We’ve seen it before unfortunately, candidates providing references for people that can’t attest to a position they held on their resume. It may sound simple but it’s often overlooked.

2. Brief them

Make sure you speak to your reference before you offer them up to the employer. Make sure they are comfortable acting as your referee and also convey to them the importance of their role in the process.

3. Don't assume

Don’t assume! Make sure you and your referee have explicit conversations about what you expect from them, you need to coach your reference to gauge their level of comfort on certain points. If you have a feeling that your reference will be asked about your technical or management capabilities, be sure to speak that through with them, so you are both prepared for the appropriate response when an employer asks.

4. Don’t always ask your manager

You may think that putting your past or current manager on your CV will carry a lot of weight, and it probably will. But do you really know them as well as you think? Are you comfortable enough with them to have the discussion we mentioned above? If so, then great go ahead. If not, it’s impossible to tell how they really judged your performance when you worked together and that's the last thing you need from them when quizzed by your prospective employer.

5. Don’t fake it till you make it

Employers these days will undergo extensive checks on you whilst you’re in the recruitment process. If you try and use a friend of yours to pose as a reference for one of your past jobs, it will most likely come out. If an employer makes the connection, it’s all over.

A final piece of advice from us in this selection, a hack if you will, for all you prospective graduates out there!

The golden key to nailing the reference selection, is selecting someone (if possible) that works at your employer. Internal references are golden and if you’ve networked hard enough during your university years, you'll more than likely have a few you can call upon for a character reference when the time comes.