There is a lot to consider when putting a job application together, from making sure your CV is up-to-date to ensuring your cover letter details exactly what you want it too; and that’s before you have to sort out your references.

The basic idea of a reference is for employers to get confirmation of claims that you have made in your application, as well as learning more about you as an employee from someone that has already worked with you.

While they may be just a formality to ensure there have been no exaggerations on your CV, they can also be used to choose between a couple of applicants who could potentially be interviewed or even hired, so it is worth making sure you have the right people listed.

Who should you choose?

Most employers looking to hire new graduates require two references: one academic and one professional. Choosing an academic one should be pretty easy – pick from the vast amount of tutors, lecturers or mentors that you had throughout your educational career, but make sure anyone you choose knows you personally.

A professional one may be a little harder, it can be quite tricky picking someone who knows your strengths well enough if you’ve only done a couple week’s work experience, or you may not have one at all.

Although it is not the ideal scenario, picking leaders from community projects that you took part in, such as sports teams or local societies, can let employers know about your character and reliability.

What are they going to be asked?

Part of the trick is picking the right reference for the type of job that you are applying for. Some employers will want a rating of your qualities such as attendance, team working skills, flexibility and reliability, whilst others may ask generic questions geared towards a specific role.

So if you’re applying for an IT role, then your lecturer on the subject at university or college can give an insight into your knowledge, grasp of language and ability, so it would be wise to pick them.

It is therefore important to maintain relationships with those you meet in your career, as you never know when you might require their input into a possible job application.

If you’re a graduate looking to kick-start your career, have a chat with Discovery Graduates and see how they can help get you started