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Top Things You Should Know About References

When writing a CV, one of the most important parts is your references. Your references are people who have known you in a professional setting, like at work or an educational institute. They will often be teachers or principles, or some form of manager or higher up than you were. Never will they be personal, unless it is a friend from a professional setting, like a junior sports team or other volunteer work.

references on cv

What You Should Expect From a Reference



A good reference will be someone you left a good impression on. This is why it is important not to burn your bridges while you’re at work or after. A good reference can many times be the thing that pushes you over the line when looking for work. Your reference should be professional and be able to verify your credentials and parts of your employment history.

Who Can Be a Reference?



There are a few people from your life that can become a reference for you. These people include former teachers or professors (You must have been in their class.), clients you have worked for previous (If, for example, you worked freelance.), previous project managers/supervisors (Someone higher up than you in a previous position.) or any other contact from someone in the industry.

Related: What Happens to Your CV After Applying for Jobs Online

What Should References Talk About?



Your references should speak about your professional life and how they found you. Depending on whether or not your reference is academic or employment based will determine what they can say about you. An academic reference can speak on academic qualifications, communication skills, attitude, attendance, dependability and punctuality. For an employment based contact, it is likely they will be asked about your personal conduct and character in the workplace, your work experience with them, any strengths or weaknesses they noticed in you and also your management or leadership skills.

Check Your References



Your references are speaking on your behalf, but using just any manager you’ve had is not recommended. Sometimes an old manager or teacher may be negative about you when questions, or they may simply say ‘no comment’ when asked about an employee. This is not a good thing, and it is an idea to ask your reference before they’re contacted about what they plan to say about you. Also, take care to see if references are required to be placed on your CV. Many jobs don’t ask for references straight up, so keep them to you until further on down the process. This will give you time to contact your references to let them know they may be contacted by another employer.

Related: How to Write a Winning CV

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