Choosing your references

References are considered an essential part of most job applications. Providing the names and contact details of people that can vouch for your personality and ability helps provide peace-of-mind to potential employers.

But how much difference do these references actually make, how do employers use them, and how do you choose the right people to list?

The internet has made communication quick and simple. It’s possible to apply for bank loans, rental properties and degrees & courses online, and with sites like, finding a job can be just as easily achieved from your laptop.

In all these cases, it’s important for those that look at your application to get a sense of the person behind the information. It’s easy to manipulate information or omit details to cover over potentially negative points, just as some positive points may accidentally be overlooked.

Meeting you face-to-face in an interview is a great way of uncovering some of these hidden truths, but many employers still want the additional assurance that you will be as reliable, trustworthy and personable as your resume makes you seem.

When selecting your professional references for your resume, consider first the value of having that person vouch for you will add. Listing a ‘colleague’ from a former job probably won’t mean much to a potential future employer. Most people, after all, could easily find someone in their office to say nice things about them.

Listing your direct manager, however, will demonstrate to your future employer that you are confident in your abilities and past performances. Often, simply listing them will be enough; the person looking over your resume may be satisfied and won’t even bother calling.

But if they do make the call, don’t worry too much about what they will talk about. In most circumstances, only the broadest of topics will be discussed (“What are they like in the office?”, “How do they fit into the team?”, “Have there been any major problems?”etc.). Where specifics are mentioned, it’s likely to simply be confirmation of the information in your resume.

The biggest difficulty many job applicants face is listing an employer on a resume when that employer isn’t aware that you’re looking for another job. After all, you don’t want the call to come through and unsettle your current boss, then not get the job.

Rest assured that most employers won’t call references until the final stage of the job application process. By the time the call is made, chances are you’ll already have been told you have the job “pending the usual checks".

If you’re particularly concerned, however, you simply need to be open with the potential employer. Explain the circumstances and they’ll appreciate your position, holding off on the phone call until they’re sure you’re their perfect candidate.

Don’t forget, your future employer is looking after their company’s best interests, but they’re also doing a job. They understand how difficult the job hunt can be and, as long as you’re seen to be upfront and open, they’ll do what they can to help.

ISMYCV gives you the opportunity to list the references and referees on your resume that you believe best reflect your past performances. Employers come to you, so you don’t have to keep searching for your dream job. Create your free online resume now!