Job search tip: Doing your references right

Although there are many important aspects to the IT recruitment process, including the right references can help you to seal the deal.


With all the resume advice out there, perhaps one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the recruitment process is the references. You might have a killer CV and an interview that went perfectly, but often it can be the references that seal the deal and land you the position.

Knowing how to correctly select and use references can go a long way to help make up the mind of a potential employer who is on the fence.

References are important

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, you should take your references seriously when deciding what to include in your CV. It was revealed that 80 per cent of employers checked applicant’s references at some point in the hiring process.

If you put in a fake references, you could easily be caught out, with 20 per cent of employers in the survey claiming they discovered that false referees were provided by their candidates.

The study also showed that it’s not only important to include real references, but to make sure they are good as well, with 62 percent of employers reporting that they called referees who provided little information about the candidate.

Choosing the right references

When it comes to selecting your references, you want to ensure that you choose people that will benefit you the most.

“You want to make sure you are including your biggest cheerleaders among your job references,” said Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s HR vice president.

“Before choosing someone, ask yourself ‘Did this person understand my full scope of responsibilities? Can he or she vouch for my skills, accomplishments and work ethic?’ You also want to make sure that you ask your former colleagues if you can list them as a reference. If someone is unwilling, it helps you to avoid a potentially awkward or damaging interaction with an employer of interest.”

It’s important for you to be strategic when choosing your references, and consider what they will be able to tell the recruiter about you. Glassdoor advises that you should think about the type of information you want your references to reveal, depending in the requirements for the role. It is also recommended that you communicate with the person throughout the process by first asking for their permission, keeping them updated about what is going on, and even coaching them with suggestions on what to mention to the employer.

Regardless of what you claim on your CV or in your interview, it is your references who will give recruiters a reputable second opinion and confirm your positive qualities. Doing your references right can help you to achieve the result you want and ultimately advance your IT career.