What should I consider when selecting work refs?

Friday November 8 2019

Caroline Mboijana

Caroline Mboijana 

By Caroline Mboijana

I have been job hunting and have now been given an opportunity to join an interesting organisation, subject to successful reference checking. I have been asked to share the names and contacts of my referees. What should I consider in selecting referees and should I include my current supervisor / employer? Cathy

Dear Cathy,
Congratulations on getting through the selection process and are now at the final stage before appointment.
When selecting your referees, you need to think about people you have worked with who are willing to speak and comment about you in the most objective manner; in terms of you character, technical strengths and areas where you may need further development.
Your referee must be linked to the employment history as presented in your CV.

In most cases your referees will be your direct supervisor or the HR manager and ideally not a peer. Please do not present a relative as this is totally unacceptable and if found out may cause your integrity to be questioned.

A good recruiter will always check the nature of your relationship with your referee. If you have recently graduated or have a limited employment track record, you can include your dissertation supervisor or a person whom you’ve interacted with on volunteer projects.
On whether you should include your current employer, consider if you have an open, respectful and professional relationship.

If the answer is yes, then include their name as a referee. I would recommend, prior to sharing their details, you have a conversation with them so they’re aware that you are ready to pursue your career in another organisation; and that you’re giving them a heads up so they can start working with you as you transition out of the organisation.
Many people avoid communicating with their supervisors at the time of leaving for fear they’ll be treated badly.

However, if there is open communication and honesty then it works out well. If on the other had you do not feel comfortable with the above, then you can inform your potential new employer that they can contact your current employer once you have been appointed.


Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)