CV Reference; Why is it Important???
Compared to exam results, details of work experience and the interview process, the words of an academic tutor or someone you spent only a week working for may not seem to carry much clout. And yet employers rarely fail to contact referees - and to rely on the information they provide.
It's important to give some thought to choosing your referees; if you only saw your personal tutor once a term, they are probably not the best person to pick. Instead choose a seminar leader or lecturer that you got on well with, and whose subject you enjoyed. But speak to them before you nominate them to ensure that they are happy to be a referee and that they feel they know you well enough to write an accurate reference.
Employers are looking to find out as much about you as possible. Academic references supply different sorts of information - attitude, discipline, how you get on with other people. Academic references can be extremely useful particularly if you didn't get the results you expected. If you got a third and were on course for a 2:1, academic referees can confirm the reasons - if there were personal problems or a specific explanation. Employers will take this kind of information into consideration - which means that a bad result doesn't necessarily damage your chances of a good job.
Resist the temptation to put a personal friend or relation as a referee. Most application forms specify that the referees must be professional or academic but it can be difficult to resist putting the name of a friend who you know will sing your praises. "I was going for a job that I desperately wanted - it was perfect, a journalism traineeship," says Anna, a media studies graduate. "I had a friend who was a features editor on a local newspaper and I got them to write a reference for me."
The plan backfired when Anna's prospective employers contacted her friend asking for details of work experience. "It was only a character reference - but the newspaper contacted my friend and asked for loads more details. He was mortified and told them that he'd never actually worked with me. It effectively killed off any chance I had of getting the job."
Assume that your references will be followed up, so don't try to fake it. And don't feel anxious about what referees will say about your potential - most employers are only interested in the facts, rather than subjective opinions about how you will do a job in the future. Employers tend to rely on interviews, tests and role-plays to give an idea of how a candidate will perform in the future. References are information on how you have been in the past.
The best references are always those with the most factual information; if you have an academic referee make sure they have your CV so they can draw attention to other aspects of your experience besides your degree.
It's simple; the more positive information employers have about you, the more likely they are to say yes.