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Who To Choose To Get That Amazing Reference.

Published 28 February 2021

The act of giving a reference has become more challenging in recent years. As a recruiter it isn’t uncommon to hear the phrase “sorry, we have a no reference policy” from a former employer's mouth.

But references are still really important.

As a recruiter I use references to see another aspect of a candidate. Employers can use them to get a strong understanding of an applicant’s work mannerisms, how they fit with a team and general attitude in the office.

When you choose someone to give a reference for you, you need to choose wisely and ensure you pick someone who will vouch for you and give a positive representation of you in the workplace. Choosing someone who says they have a no reference policy will cause confusion for your potential new employer.

Making the right choice

The options for referees usually range from your most recent manager, a co-worker, a former manager or a character reference. The most preferred option is your most recent manager. This is because they have worked with you up until recently and can speak the most knowledgeable about your up to date experience.

However, practically, many people are still employed when looking for work, so unless you have a very transparent relationship with your line manager you may want to look for a different source, and turn to one of the options suggested above.

Not working?

Then it should be easy, speak to your old manager and confirm that they are able to give references and ask them to do so. Most people refuse references because they didn’t know the request was coming, letting them know you need their help to secure your next role often brings out the best in people.

Should you choose HR?

If you work in HR – yes.

If you don’t, then my advice is to choose a reference you have worked for or with. HR are fantastic at giving the details – salary, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving. However, if you want someone to give an overview of your personality, drive and ambition then it needs to be someone you have worked alongside.


Ask before giving – it’s polite, ensure the person you speak to is confident in you and will give you a glowing reference.

If someone cannot give a verbal reference because of company policies, check to see if a written document can be created – it is better than nothing.

Build up your LinkedIn profile with testimonials from previous employers and current line managers – you can direct a prospective employer to review you there.

Be creative – former clients can give cracking references for sales and marketing people, as well as employers. If you have an army of people lining up to say how great you are then you simply can’t go wrong.

To discuss your next career move please call the office on 01628 817124 and one of our consultants will be happy to talk through the options for you.