Why are employer references important?

Posted on 21 September 2021

When it comes to applying for a job, there are a hundred and one things to keep in mind in order to make yourself stand out; one of the main things being who you choose as a reference. But why are employer references so important? Surely your skills and qualifications are what an employer is looking for? Well yes in many cases this is certainly correct, however, for some employers your reference is one of the most essential parts in the recruitment process - it can be the deciding factor for who gets the job. If there is one thing to always remember, it’s that your professional reference in your resume does matter.

What's an employer reference?

An employer reference is a short summary of your employment and is a way to provide evidence for whether or not you are suited for that particular position - they are typically needed when you are looking for a new job. You are going to be up against many other applicants so creating a good impression for yourself is vital. Every section of a resume is important; but by adding a strong and professional reference, it allows you to not only stand out as a strong candidate, but also provide evidence of your value as an employee. The reason that an employer will request a reference is to get a greater understanding of your past work performance; as well as your work habits from people who have seen you work on a day to day basis.

What is the importance of an employer reference?

A reference can ultimately be critical for an employer when deciding between hiring you or someone else. In fact 69% of employers have said that they changed their minds about a candidate after speaking with a reference. This clearly shows that, no matter what you are applying for, a lack of professional and reliable references can hurt your chances of getting a job. They provide evidence of your abilities, attitude, achievements and growth potential; overall showing the real you. When it comes to landing a job in a competitive market, it can be difficult, so you can use your reference as extra support to get where you want to be. It is understandable that when an employer is hiring someone new, they want to be confident that they are correct for the role; the final stages of the hiring process requires more than just a good employment history - an employer needs to ensure that the candidate matches both their company's work ethic and culture. Not only is it important for your new role but references also allow you to keep a good relationship with your past employers and overall increases the chance of being employed.

Who should you use as a reference?

Who you choose as a reference can affect the decision of the employer so it is important to get this right. More times than not, candidates choose previous employers, teachers, professors, or other people who have worked with that applicant on a professional or voluntary level. You must choose an individual who can provide a recommendation, confirm your accomplishments and talk honestly about your skills and abilities. Your goal is to choose professionals who can attest to your work ethic and easily explain to someone why you would be suited best for the job. Always keep in mind the type of job you're applying for, this will help you to factor in which qualifications you are going to need in order for an employer to hire you.

So, yes there are many people you can choose to use as a reference; however there are also many that you can list that are going to hurt your chances of being hired rather than help. It is recommended to not use contacts such as friends, family, anyone who has fired you or an employer you were fired from. The chances are that your employer will be contacting your reference so ensure that they are always accurate and aware that they may be contacted at any point.

When and how will employers check your job references?

This comes later on in the hiring process and is a very common stage for employers, in fact it is said that 80% of employers do contact references when evaluating potential employees. During this process an employer will be in contact with whoever the candidate has chosen as a referee - this may be by email, writing or by phone - and is used to check the claims that have been made on your resume and in your interview. This part of the hiring process is never to dig up dirt on a candidate or make them look bad; it is simply carried out so that the employer can verify any information that has been provided, gain a deeper understanding of what it is like to work with you and see whether or not your resume accurately represents your skills and experiences. An employer will often rely on a reference to back up any claims, so this is where if you have lied or exaggerated, things can backfire.

The importance of an employer reference cannot be talked about enough. It is easy to see who you choose as a reference and what is said could easily be the reason you do or do not get the job. For employers it is a crucial part of employment and is helpful in supporting their decision regarding new hires; so when you are next completing that all important job application, always take the time and effort to get the reference perfect.

Here at GMP Recruitment, we are proud to offer high quality, bespoke recruitment solutions. Between our expert staff we have built up a portfolio of long-term client and candidate partnerships. You can contact our team today on 01905 958333 or drop us an email at info@gmprecruitment.co.uk if you are looking to recruit for your team or are ready to embark on a new opportunity for yourself.

Share this article