Sometimes securing a job offer comes down to who you know

Employment history referencesYour new employer wants to know what you’ve been doing for the last 5 years. They’re not being nosey (well, they are really), it’s just another “ticking-the-box” exercise that HR departments seem to be very strict about.

Knowing this, you should get in to the habit of recording contact details of the various managers and supervisors you’ll work under.

Putting your reference list together

Generally, managers or supervisors from previous roles are what your new employers will expect to see on your list of referees. Here are a few things to remember when putting your reference list together.

  1. Timescale – Your references must account for the last 5 years, e.g. 2008-2013
  2. List your references in relation to your role, e.g.
    Jan-May 2013 | Office Assistant, Company name (Also see example below.)
  3. Contact details – For each reference you will need to provide adequate contact details for your referee: telephone number, email address and office address.
  4. Personal references – You may be asked to provide personal references; usually only one or two are needed. Personal referees cannot be related to you. When I’ve had to provide them, I usually opt for friends I’ve known for at least 5 years or people I’ve worked with for longer than a year. If you have recently graduated, listing a lecturer
  5. Gaps in employment will need to be explained. If you have been studying or travelling make this clear (another reason to keep busy while looking for work). If you find you have no way to cover gaps, your personal reference(s) will come in to play – so make sure you choose the right people to represent you.
  6. Presentation and formatting – Presentation isn’t a big deal but make your references as easy to read and access as possible. List them out in a Word document, formatting appropriately to distinguish between each referee and their associated contact information.
    How to format your employment referencesNote: As with your CV, list your references in reverse chronological order; most recent role first.