When you’re applying for jobs, providing references will be an essential part of the process. While these don’t always need to be included on your resume to begin with, it is important that you have a few professional references lined up for when a potential employer requests them.

When you apply for a job, you’re essentially selling yourself. A reference check usually comes at the end of the application/interview process, and is your last chance to put your best foot forward. As such, a good reference could land you the job, while a bad one will most likely negatively affect your chances.

Our recruitment team at Kaleidoscope Legal Recruitment have years’ of experience processing applications in the Australian legal jobs sector, and in that time we’ve discovered what makes a good reference and what makes a bad one. Here’s what we’ve learnt:

Choose Your References Wisely

Even though you probably won’t need to supply the names and contact details of your references until later in the application process, it’s best to have your list of references prepared before you even start applying for jobs.

When choosing your references, make sure you only select people who will have something positive to say about you. Also try to focus on people who can speak confidently about your relevant skills. If you had a good relationship with the accounts team, but you were working as a paralegal, they might not be in the best position to describe your job capabilities.

Your professional references should be people who you worked directly under, or who you worked with very closely.

Make Sure You Have Permission

When supplying the contact details of your references to legal recruiters or prospective employers, you should always have permission to do so. This is as simple as giving them a quick call and asking them if you can list them.

To ensure they are able to give you the best possible reference let them know what type of roles you’re applying for and maybe even arrange a time to have a chat with them to make sure they’re comfortable providing a reference on your behalf, and to establish the type of things they intend to say.

You Don’t Have to Include Them on Your Resume

You may not be aware of this, but you’re not actually expected to list your references on your initial application, unless the recruiter has specifically requested them. If they have specifically requested them, list them on a separate document and submit them along with the rest of your application.

The reason behind this is that a good resume should ideally be kept relatively short – limited to a page or two. So, rather than wasting precious space listing professional references, make the most of your word count to detail all your relevant skills and experience.

Keep Your References Updated

This encompasses two things. Firstly, always make sure the references you provide are up-to-date, and not an old reference from back when you worked at McDonalds ten years ago. Secondly, as you’re applying for jobs and attending interviews, keep the people providing your references in the loop.

If a potential employer asks to do a reference check, call your reference in advance and let them know that they may be contacted. This will ensure they’re prepared to review you in the best possible light when they are contacted.

If you’re looking for a legal support job, contact Kaleidoscope Legal Recruitment today and arrange a confidential chat with one of our experienced consultants!