When you are applying for a new job, it is inevitable that
you will be asked to supply references from a previous
The most appropriate person to provide the reference will be
you last direct line manager, as that person will have the
necessary experience of working with you and will know your
strengths and weaknesses.
Assuming that you got along with your line managers, these
people should always be your first port of call.
The very best way to deal with the reference situation is to
You know that all employers will ask for references, so you
need to prepare accordingly.
I suggest that before asking somebody to be your referee,
that you actually write the reference yourself and give the
letter (or Word file) to them to sign and date.
This method allows you to control what's said about you and
also makes it very easy for your referee.
I'm not suggesting that you write your own references here -
it is essential that you understand the idea here is simply to
influence what's being said about you if at all possible.
You should make it clear to your referee that you are simply
trying to make it easier for him/her to provide the reference
and save them some time.
You should NEVER submit a self-written reference to a
potential employer yourself. It's quite different when the
referee uses your words though!
Be aware that some employers won't accpet letters of
reference and will instead send out a questionnaire to the
referee asking specific questions.
In these cases, a letter of reference will be pretty much
However, for when they are applicable, here's an example
that you could use:
Referee's Job Title
Referee's Employer Address
New Employer Contact
New Employer Job Title
New Employer Company Name
New Employer Address
Dear Employer Contact,
Thank you for your letter
requesting a reference for [YOUR FULL NAME]
which I am pleased to provide.
[YOUR FIRST NAME] was employed
by [REFEREE'S EMPLOYER NAME] in the capacity of
[YOUR JOB TITLE] until [DATE LEFT] and I was
his/her immediate line manager.
During the time that he/she
worked with me, I found him/her to be
conscientious, reliable and trustworthy.
[YOUR FIRST NAME] was a popular
member of the team and was always keen to pass
on knowledge to more junior staff.
Whilst sorry to lose [YOUR
NAME], I understand that he/she had reached a
plateu with [REFEREE'S EMPLOYER NAME] and that
the time had come to move on.
It is without hesitation that I
recommend him/her for employment with your
Should you need further
clarification on any point, please feel free to
contact me on [TELEPHONE NUMBER].
You'll note that the letter is pretty vague, doesn't
oversell, yet contains a recommendation to employ - which all
good references should do.
It is not legal (at least in the UK), for an
ex-employer to provide a negative reference, but remember that
they can always refuse to provide a reference, which speaks
Therefore, when resigning from a position, always try to
stay on good terms with your immediate line manager, as that is
the person who will most likely be contacted by potential
If you are applying to recruitment agencies, whether on
a speculative basis or for a specific role, do not under any
circumstances, name your referees on your CV.
Good recruiters use referee details for their own purposes
in one of the following ways:
- If they have never dealt with your current employer
previously, they will try to use your referee as a way into
the company - perhaps sending speculative CV's of
candidates to fill your old job. They know you're leaving,
so it's a great opportunity for them to score a nice
placement that they wouldn't otherwise have known
- They could call your contact with a view to
head-hunting him. Or worse, they might be looking for
someone a little more senior or experienced than you - and
your manager might just fit the bill!
The recruitment world is a dog eat dog one. There is no
loyalty to you as a candidate. You are simply the route to a
lucrative fee - typically 20% of your first year's salary.
My advice therefore, when applying to a position via a
recruitment agency, is to leave off referee names and contact
information and replace with a line saying, "References
Available By Request" - but don't supply them to the agency.
Supply them to the employer once you have been offered the