Referees – a key part of the recruitment process

Checking references is an important part of the recruitment process. It enables your potential employer to confirm the information you provided in your CV, your achievements and results and, just as importantly, the ‘soft skills’ you brought to the organisation, like your communication style and work ethic.

So, if references are a critical part of the process to help you land the role, the question is – should you include your referees’ details in your CV?

In general, unless you’ve been specifically asked in the job description by the hiring manager or the recruiter to include referees in your CV, you don’t need to include them. It is okay instead to include a short statement such as ‘referees available upon request.’

Most employers don’t need references upfront as it’s more efficient to screen candidates and interview them before speaking with referees. Ideally, you also want to keep your CV concise and not take up valuable real estate with information unnecessary at the screening stage.

Once you’ve nailed those interviews and it does come time to provide referees, here are some things to consider:

Who do you include? Think broadly about who a possible referee for you could be

  • Your current manager, if that is realistic
  • Previous managers in your existing or past organisations
  • Key stakeholders whom you maintained contact with from prior roles
  • A senior member of an organisation where you have volunteered

Think carefully about your choice of referees depending on the role you are applying for

  • How well do they know your strengths, capabilities and achievements and how you align with the key selection criteria?
  • Can they identify areas where you might need to develop?
  • Ensure your referees know you wish to include them on your CV. Referees can be very frustrated if they are contacted out of the blue to referee you for a job they know nothing about.
  • Make sure they have an up-to-date copy of your CV.
  • Tell them about the role you are applying for and why you believe you are a good fit.
  • Keep your referees informed of the outcomes of job interviews

If you are getting interviews but have yet to be offered roles after referee checks, it would be worthwhile having a conversation with your referees about this. Perhaps they weren’t clear on the role you applied for or the direction you wanted to take.

And, if after reference checks, you do get the role (or even if you don’t), make sure you take the time to thank your referees for their input.

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