If you’re brand new to the job hunt, like many graduates are, you’ll find that looking for your first job is a learning curve.

It takes a while to perfect your CV and interview techniques, and to know the ins and outs of submitting applications. After a while, it starts to feel like second nature!

However, the finer details can still remain a mystery.

One of the most common job application mysteries is providing references.

This short guide covers:

  • What are references?
  • Why do you need to provide references?
  • What will they ask?
  • How to choose your references?

Well, if you want to find out, all you need to do is continue reading.


What are references?

References usually form part of a graduate job application process.

You may be asked to include them on an application form or you may be asked to provide them in the later recruitment stages.

Either way, to tackle them, knowing what they are is a good place to start!

When providing references, you will need to give the name and contact details of someone who has worked with you previously or who knows you well.

Usually, you’ll also need to include their professional title or how you know them.

A prospective employer will then contact these individuals in relation to your job application.

Employers tend to only contact references if there is a job offer on the table.


Why do you need to provide references?

For any company, hiring someone new is a big investment, so employers need to be sure they have the right person for the job.

Of course, they will find out all about you during the application process but it’s always good to have a little extra back up!

That’s where references come in; asking for references allows employers to get to know you better.


What will they ask?

Every business operates and recruits in a different manner. So, this means that the way companies handle references varies.

Some will ask a set list of questions, others will send a form with ratings and some may choose to have an informal chat with your references.

Generally speaking, employers will want to understand how your references view you as a professional and also find out a little more about who you are as an individual.

Bearing this in mind, you will need to select your references carefully.


How to choose your references

There are three types of references that you may be asked to provide:

  • Professional references – Normally a manager or colleague at a more senior level.
  • Academic references – For example, a university tutor or mentor who has worked closely with you.
  • Personal references / Character references – These individuals don’t have to know you in a professional/educational capacity (but they can). However, you can’t use a family member or spouse/partner. This type of reference is helpful for graduates who may not have professional or academic references they can use.

The key thing to bear in mind is that a potential employer will probably ask some specific and probing questions.

So, whoever you choose to be one of your references will need to know you well enough to be able to give all of the relevant information.

It will boost your application if you provide references who you will speak about you in a positive way!

It’s always advisable to ask any individuals you are planning on using as a reference first. That way, they can be fully ready and prepared when they are contacted by a company.

There you have it, a quick guide to providing references!


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