CV Tips reference

Published on October 22nd, 2012 | by Amy Edwards


Do I Have To List My Last Employer As A Reference On My CV?

By Amy @BubbleJobs

The company loved your application, the interview went well and  you’ve been offered the job – now there are just three little words that stand between you and your dream job; “subject to references”.

That’s it; it’s all over! You might as well as well pack your bags and look for something else now because there’s no way you’re going to get a good reference from your last employer. It wasn’t that you left on bad terms, it’s just you never really got on that well with your last boss and you’re pretty sure they’re not going to give you a glowing review when they get the all-important reference call.

So, what do you do? Is there any way you can get around listing your last employer as a reference or by not listing them, do you risk actually making the situation worse?!

This one’s a tricky one but believe it or not there are no rules that say you have to provide your last employer as a reference on your CV (in fact, you don’t have to list your references on your CV at all – these can be supplied at a later date). There’s nothing stopping you from listing the details of the HR department of your previous company as a reference (after all, these are the people who are going to probably end up sorting your reference out!) or from listing details of another colleague who worked in a senior capacity.

In 9 out of 10 cases, HR managers won’t have an issue with who they receive a reference from, however if they do happen to ask why you haven’t listed your last manager you should just be honest. If you don’t feel they know you well enough to be able to give an accurate reference or you feel they didn’t work with you in a business capacity enough, just say. More often than not, hiring managers will  be happy to accept this and will just go for the reference you’ve suggested, however if they’re being stubborn and still want a reference from your previous manager, at least you’ve warned them that the reference might not be too glowing!

If worst comes to worst and they do ask for a reference from your ex-manager, it’s time to face the facts. Thought employers couldn’t give you a bad reference? Contrary to popular opinion, employers can give you a bad reference but only if they can prove that what they’re saying is accurate and can substantiate it. Similarly, they can refuse to give you one (which speaks volumes) but only if they’ve already stated this as their company policy in your original employment contract.

But wait, things might not be as bad as they seem. Even if they do give you a reference, it most cases this will only list your position at the company, how long you were there, your sickness record and a ranking (normally out of 5) for 10 or so main criteria. Remember, they generally won’t (or can’t)  provide any additional information about you which isn’t sepcifically requested so, unless the new hiring manager asks specific questions about your ability, performance and relationship with your previous employer, there’s not a lot else they can really say.

When it comes to CV references, it’s a good idea to have a few good referees available that you know you can count on. Normally hiring managers will only check two references maximum so by providing them with three, you’re sneakily increasing the chance (slim as it may be!) that they might not head straight to your ex-employer. Similarly, there’s nothing to stop you listing personal or ‘character’ references, particularly if you’ve not got a lot of employment experience. These references should be able to give the hiring manager some idea of what you’re like as a person away from a work environment – something which is really important when working in a small team, particularly in the digital sector!

Another way to boost your reference count and credentials is to try and get as many recommendations on LinkedIn as possible. Remember, your LinkedIn profile acts a bit like an online CV which you can ‘jazz up’ with recommendations from previous employers, colleagues and even clients. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation – remember, it’s all about improving your credentials at the end of the day – and be willing to give recommendations out too but remember, it’s best to be as honest as possible, even with these kinds of recommendations.

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About the Author

Amy Edwards is the DIgital Marketing Manager for Bubble Jobs. With a strong background in online content and copywriting, Amy is responsible for the SEO, Content Management, Email Marketing, Banner Advertising and Online Partnerships for Bubble Jobs, the Bubble Jobs Blog and The Bubble Digital Career Portal. You can follow her on Twitter here or add her to your circles on Google+ here.

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