Hopefully you haven't made the mistake of adding references to your curriculum vitae (CV), just for the sake of it. According to an article published by Refinery29, having a bad reference could potentially jeopardise your future job.

But what are references and why are they so important in the job seeking process?

According to André Naudé, who is the Chief Commercial Officer at Indgro Multi Services Group, there are different types of references future employers take into consideration. They are: 

  • Professional references which can include a "previous employer, manager, colleagues, clients, business contacts, college instructors" and any other person who knows and understand your professional workplace skills.
  • Personal references which usually comes into play when you have not worked before, or you have not worked in a while. Employers use "character or individual references from people who know your skills and attributes as an alternative to professional references." These can include high school teachers, coaches, pastors etc. 
  • LinkedIn recommendations can also be used as references. André explains that, "If the potential employee has recommendations on their LinkedIn Profile, we, same as prospective employers will be able to see, at a glance, who is recommending the potential employee and what they have to say."

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André emphasises that there are, however, ways in which you can avoid listing someone on your CV who could become a potential bad references. Here are the 5 aspects you need to consider before listing someone as a reference: 

1. Have a list of references prepared in advance

André says that since most prospective employers ask for a list of references at anytime, before or after an interview - it is important to be prepared and have your list readily available. "Being ready to hand over his or her references when asked means they can spend the necessary time doing it right," he explains that could be advantageous for you. 

2. Choose the number of references you want to list carefully

According to André the ideal number of references fall between 3-5 people, and if you have worked for at least a year then it is recommended that you list two professional references. 

3. Decide on who you want to list as a reference

Making the decision of who you want to list as a reference should be done based on the position you are applying as well as the relationship you have with that person. "Ideally, one wants references that know you in the same context that is required for the position. For example, if one is applying for a research assistant position, using previous professors or advisers is a desirable choice." List people that know you who you are individually and professionally. You want your reference to provide accurate information about you. 

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4. Ask for permission before listing someone as a reference

Reach out in advance and make sure that each individual is willing to be a reference for you and that they have positive things to say about you. Not contacting your potential references in advance could lead to them being caught off guard. This may make someone who was potentially a good reference a bad one especially if they were not prepared to get that phone call from your prospective employer. 

5. Discuss your CV with your potential reference before adding them

After contacting your potential references and they have agreed to serve as references, you need to provide each one of them with a copy of your CV and you should also discuss the position you have applied for with them. "Taking this extra measure gives ones’ references a chance to think about what they want to say about the potential Employee as it relates to a specific position," explains André. 

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When all is said and done and the people who've listed as references have done their part; remember to thank them and show appreciation. This will help "maintain contact for a relationship that allows [you] to contact the same people for a future reference list," says André.

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