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The referee question

August 19, 2020 by Susan Surgener

The referee question

The Careers For Tomorrow Festival is underway! Our very first session for this annual event was ‘Best Practice Job Applications’ presented by Sandra Ursino OAM, HR Director for Pitcher Partners – a well-known mid-tier accounting firm.

The great thing about being a moderator for online presentations is that you also get to listen in! Part of a moderator’s role is to be on hand to assist with any incoming questions – and it’s always good to see that we are on the same page with industry. Only on one key point did we differ slightly during this presentation, and that was around the topic of providing references.

To be clear on the whole referee/references confusion, think of it like this – a referee is the contact person who will provide you with a reference. They will vouch for your skills and attributes e.g. hardworking, reliable, approachable, methodical! Prospective employers will expect that your referees are current or recent, and are connected to your employment, community engagement or education.

A question asked by a student attending this event was: “Can I use ‘references provided on request’ or should I include referees in my resume/job application?”

Some private sector organisations will be more than happy for you to provide your referees at interview. The public sector are more likely to prefer the contact details of your referees up front, i.e. in your resume.

At Student Development, we highly recommend that you include two referees in your resume. At the very least, we would want to know who you are going to ask to vouch for you. If you have put ‘References provided on request’ we are likely to ask:

  1. Have you been in recent contact with your referees?
  2. Have you asked them to vouch for you?
  3. Are they up to speed with what positions you are applying for?
  4. What arrangement have you made with your referees i.e. do you need to let them know about each job you are applying for, or are they happy for you to use their details over a certain time period?
  5. Are your referees related to you in a working, academic, community engagement or voluntary work capacity?

Finally, you cannot use family friends to act as your referee. This would be classed as a character reference. When applying for work, this type of reference is not what an employer is looking for.

If you have yet to start working, or are changing career direction, then the first thing you are looking to do is secure a referee. Community engagement and voluntary work is a great place to start!

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