Keep referees onside
With the emergence of social media and online recommendations, we often get asked whether referees still matter. The answer is a resounding “yes”. Online recommendations may be great for showing the skills for which you are best known, but they are not a substitute for the role references play.
The referees that recruiters and employers most value are the people you reported to directly, who can speak about how you used your skills and experience to add value to the employer organisation.
Former managers can also speak about your personal attributes, such as reliability, your ability to build and leverage relationships, and whether you collaborated well with other team members.
It is a good idea to keep track of where your referees are, as they too may have moved on from the organisation where you both once worked. If you leave finding your referees until the moment you are asked for their contact details, it could possibly cause you unnecessary stress at a time when you most need to remain calm.
There is also such a thing as referee etiquette that you should follow when job hunting. As it may have been a number of years since you last looked for a job, you should contact your referees to ask if they are still happy to speak on your behalf, before including them on your CV or giving out their details.
When you know you have been shortlisted for a job, or a recruiter asks you to supply at least two referees, then let your referees know they will soon be contacted and by whom.
Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong