How Important Are Job References

Candidates often ask us how important are job references when applying for roles. Our answer is they can cost you a job offer!

Make sure you leave a job on good terms, you may need your former employer sometime in the future to provide a reference and you want it to be good. It may sound scary that a reference can make or break a job offer so we are going to talk you through the most common questions regarding references.


how are important are job references

How many references will I need and from whom?

Most companies will ask for 2 professional references. This will usually mean your previous 2 employers.


How do I get a job reference if I’ve never been employed?

Many students come across this issue. If you have never been employed then you can either ask your tutors for a reference or you can ask a professional person who has known you for many years.


How might a job reference cost me a job offer?

If your referees give you a bad reference that states you were sacked or performed poorly then it is very unlikely you will be able to keep the job offer. Another reason is if the reference isn’t 100% correct – this may occur for example if you have lied about the dates of a job on your CV.


Always give 100% accurate job details on your CV so any reference given matches them.

the importance of job references

Are employers legally obliged to give a reference?

Not in most cases, only if there was written agreement or if they are in a regulated industry such as the financial industry.

If they do give a reference, they are legally obliged to give one that’s fair and accurate. This can include an employee’s performance and state if they’ve been sacked.

As employers aren’t legally obliged to give a reference, many will just give a very short reference that includes dates of employment, job title and salary. This can be because many employers these days want to avoid the repercussions of legal action if an employee claims they’ve given an unfair or inaccurate reference.


Can I be sacked for asking for a reference for a new job?

No you can’t and you may be able to seek damages in court if you are. However most potential employers will only ask for a reference once they are willing to offer you a job.


What do you do if you think you’ve been given an unfair reference?

If the first instance you should get legal advice from an organisation such as Citizens Advice Bureau. They will be able to advise you whether you have a case for damages in court. You must be able to prove that the reference is inaccurate or misleading and that you suffered a “loss”, for example you lost the job offer.


If you are looking for a new job and have any other questions about job references then please do contact us and we will be happy to give our advice.


Found this article on “How Important are Job References” useful? Read more advice on job hunting on our blog.