Important! … Have I got your attention?

Do you know you have an additional referee to those listed on your resume? Well you do and that referee is called Google. When you apply for jobs, at some stage of the process, over 90% of recruiters and potential employers will Google your name to see what comes up. They aim to look at what you say and how you behave on social media. When clients come to a consultation with me I talk to them about this, and how it can have an adverse effect on their job search.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their Facebook account is the belief they have set the privacy settings correctly to make their posts private. The quickest way to check this out is to do the following.

In Facebook, click on your Profile, now go to the little dots beside View Activity Log and click on View As. Go to the top of the page and you should see “This is what your profile looks like to: Public”. Now look at your posts. What do you see? What will a recruiter see? Have you shared or posted content which may potentially harm your career?

If you are now worried about what has been shared publicly and want to clean it up, go to Settings, click on Privacy and in the second section is an option to ‘Limit Past Posts’. If you click on that and select Friends, the previously public postings will now be private and no longer visible to the public. Check out all privacy settings while you are there. Repeat the process periodically to make sure nothing slips through.

Choose Referees Wisely

I took a phone call recently from a recruiter doing an applicant reference check.  I was listed as a referee on the applicant’s resume. The only trouble is I’ve not worked with the person for about ten years, and nor have I spoken to them in that time. Nothing I could say would advance the applicant going forward as I couldn’t speak to a decade of their employment, or even say they’d been working. It brings me back to what I have spoken about before in relation to referees. I can’t emphasise it enough, where possible, they need to be your most recent supervisors, and you need to maintain regular contact checking your referee details remain unchanged, and keeping them up to date with what you are doing. There are a few, but a very few exceptions.

Tips on choosing referees

Normally recruiters and potential employers like to see your most recent supervisors named as your referees as they are the person in authority with first-hand knowledge of your work. What happens then when you are not in the position to offer supervisors as referees, as in the case of people who have been self-employed and who are now seeking to return to work for someone else? It means widening the net. If you have been working in a self-employed role, think about professionals you may have dealt with often over the course of your self-employment, such as your accountant, a supplier, or a regular consistent purchaser of your goods or services. Another potential source is where you may have served long-term in a voluntary role with organisations such as the CFA or a local business group. Sourcing appropriate referees in these circumstances is not an insurmountable issue it just takes a little extra time and thought. And remember don’t just name an individual as your referee without first seeking their agreement to act in the role.To do otherwise may turn out to be an act of self-sabotage.

Referee Details in Short Term Employment

If you are person who is working shutdowns, contract or project roles, often your referees are supervisors from each position worked. These supervisors are usually in the same situation as you, on a shutdown, contract or project, and just like you they move on when the job is complete. Some of them have company email addresses or mobile phones issued just for the duration of the gig. If you are not keeping in touch and checking details of your referees in this environment, then you are probably sabotaging your job applications as a prospective employer / recruiter will be unable to contact your referee. For each job you apply for, check that your referees are still working where you last had contact with them. If they have moved on to a new role and you want to show how you are linked to them, you can add a line to your resume that states they were (formerly the …….), so the employer /recruiter will be able to map the connection.

A note on referees

Just a reminder – it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your referees, often, at least every three months and let them know what you are up to.  When asked if your referee’s telephone number is current, could you answer the question with certainty? Do you know where they are currently working?  If your answer is no, you have just sabotaged your application.  Maintain a conversation with your referees, it’s worth it!

Thoughts on Referees

Do your stated referees know they are your referees? Did you ask them before naming them?

What will your referees say about you? Are you absolutely certain they will say what you think they will say?

Google your name and clean up your social media, employers are using it like a ‘referee’ to check up on you.

Let your referees know the requirements of the job you are applying for, so they can speak of you in those terms.

Email addresses for referees are commonly asked for on application forms, follow through and list them on your resume as well.

When your referee is asked that all important question, ‘would you re-employ (insert your name)’, will he/she answer yes without hesitation? If you have any doubts, re-think your choices.


What will your referees say about you?

phone-2127_640The days of written references are gone and referees need to be carefully considered and chosen.  They also need to be individuals who are easily contactable by modern means.

In choosing suitable individuals to list as your referees, answers to the following two questions are essential.

  1. What makes a good referee
  2. And secondly, how can you make your referee’s job easier and more effective?

Before answering these questions important ground rules and details relating to referees need to be thought about.

  1. Never list a person on your resume as a referee unless you have sought their agreement to the role.
  2. Make sure you have a minimum of two referees with a number of additional people if possible to draw from.
  3. You will need the name, current role and employer, (previous role and employer as well if that is where they supervised you), their email address and the contact telephone numbers of their choice.  Make sure all details are kept up to date and correct if they have been on your resume for a while.

Now to the first question, what makes a good referee?

  1. They need to be someone who has supervised you, preferably in your current role, but if you don’t want your existing employer to know you are looking for another job, your immediate supervisor in your previous role.
  2. Use different referees for different job applications so that the best individual will speak to the specifics of the job you are applying for.
  3. If you are a school leaver approach your careers teacher or a supervisor where you undertook work experience.
  4. If you have been self employed and consequently don’t have supervisors who can assume the role of referee, look to your business associates who can speak to your work or characteristics, for example your business accountant, bank manager, a supplier or a satisfied repeat customer.
  5. The best referee will answer a resounding ‘Yes!’ without hesitation when asked the 64 million dollar question, ‘would you re-employ (insert your name here)?’ If you have any doubts they would answer with a resounding yes, use a different referee.

Secondly, how can you make your referee’s job easier and more effective?

  1. Speak to your referees about what you are doing, provide them with copies of the advertisements and position descriptions of the jobs you are applying for.
  2. Have a conversation with your referee and remind them how what you do or previously did, are connected to the job you are applying for.

And finally, in answer to the question of whether or not you should list your referees on your resume; there is no definitive answer.  Personally, I come down on the side of making the recruiter’s job easier and so I list referees on resumes unless otherwise indicated.

Over to you now, what do you think your referees will say about you, have you considered and addressed all aspects relevant to the role of a referee?  Are you making the most of this element of your job application?