How to get a Reference

‘Do you have any references?’ is a common question to be asked by recruiters; however it is usually a last thought for jobseekers.

Questions we usually hear are: ‘Who are the best people to ask?’, ‘Can I get them from my friends/family?’ and ‘What’s the best way to approach someone to ask to give me a reference?’

In order to clear up this confusion, here’s our advice for obtaining references for your job applications:

What are references?

References are simply a way of recruiters and hiring managers to be able to have someone vouch for your character and work ethic. Your CV is a chance for you to sell yourself; a reference is a recruiters way of double checking what you said is true and that you will live up to their expectations.

Why are references important for job applications?

References give the recruiter or hiring manager the chance to be able to speak with or receive information from a previous employer and find out more about you in ways that you would be unable to comment on easily.

How many references should I have?

This number usually differs between recruiters and hiring managers; however the recommended amount would be 2.

Who should I ask to be my referees?

Former bosses are always the best people to ask as they would have seen you whilst working and have an idea of your work ethic and personality within the work place and usually give an honest, unbiased reference. Colleagues or clients could also be asked depending on the type of position you were in and the relationship held with the individual.

Friends and family should be avoided; their view on you is most likely to be biased. However, a form tutor, former teacher or professor would be acceptable.

The key people to ask are people you trust and those who can be positive about you and your work.

Do I need to ask someone to be my referee?

In one word: yes. References should not be given out without their permission. Regardless of whether you think the reference will be outstanding; ensuring that they are aware that they will be contacted in the right way.

How do I ask someone to be my referee?

This really depends on the type of relationship you have with the person you are planning to ask. A face to face request or telephone call would be the best way. However, if you are unable to reach them or haven’t spoken to them for a long while, an email would be acceptable.

By contacting them first, you can speak with them and give them an idea of the type of role you are going for so their reference could fit with your application.

Do I need to include references somewhere on my CV?

You shouldn’t really need to provide references before the interview stage; however, if you wish to add your references to your CV, a name and number or email address are more than enough.

Stating that a reference is ‘available on request’ is also acceptable.

Should I bring references to my interview?

This is recommended even if you aren’t asked to bring them. It is always good to keep a record of references – just in case. It demonstrates your excellent preparation and planning skills.


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