Is A Character Reference In Resume Important? Yes, Here Is Why.

Is A Character Reference In Resume Important? Yes, Here Is Why.
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 15 July, 2022

There is an old saying that goes, “people do not define you. Only you can.” In the case of your professional career, it is the exact opposite. People can make or break you. To be specific, the ones you worked with can spell out your next move. This is one of the reasons why professionals do not burn bridges with their companies. Unless the experience bordered on harassment and illegal activity, cutting off ties with previous employers is not advisable.

So with that said, why is it important to maintain good relations? Character references in your resume may be the reason behind that.

Also read: 7 Unexpected Questions You Get Asked At Interviews (Infographic)

Now you may ask, “What do I need testimonials for? My achievements alone can already score me a spot with the company I am applying to.” Let us first define a character reference and its benefits to get to know its importance.

What does character reference mean in a resume?

The best way to describe a character reference is through the phrase “Put in a good word for me.” Character references provide an account of your achievements through somebody else’s eyes. In this case, it could range from your previous boss, a Human Resources professional, and the like.

Fresh graduates can look to their professors or key people in their extracurricular activities. While some companies do not request a reference, most usually do. And if you find yourself with a potential employer asking for one, how do you go about it? First, you must be able to define who is included in that spectrum.

Also read: Yes, A Two-Page Resume Is Effective: 3 Writing Tips To Keep In Mind

Can a friend be a character reference?

We have defined some of the personalities earlier, but it is important to know that the reach should be, in itself, narrow. Why? References should have certain characteristics to be qualified. These include being unbiased, having a concrete experience of working professionally with you, and are usually related to the industry you are in.

Keeping these criteria in mind, family and friends are not advisable to have on your resume. People in your personal inner circle usually contain biased influence and can push for their subjective opinions. They also do not work with you, so all they can rely on is who you are outside of what you do. So who can you call? Here are just some examples.

1. Your former boss

Probably the most go-to choice, professionals like yourself opt to ring up the old boss for a good word. It is the safest and the most optimal choice. Why? This person not only worked with you. They also managed and monitored you on a daily basis.

They know your working ways, and your achievements and they have anecdotes of their experience with you. If you are applying for a higher position, your boss can also share if you are ready for such a role or not.

Fresh graduates can look to their intern supervisor, professor, or their colleagues in extracurricular activities as equivalent to this. Examples could be organization presidents, guidance counselors, and the like.

2. Office mentors or company executives

Another key person you would want to have on your list of references would be a mentor. Keep in mind that your work mentor is not your boss. Mentors could be senior people from the same or different departments.

They could also be the president of the company, too! If you have a connection to the higher-ups of the company you previously worked for, tap them. Senior company executives bear weight in the industry they belong to because of their tenure. Take this as an opportunity to have them help you out.

3. Clients

This is especially helpful for those who are customer-facing. If you feel that your client can vouch for you, take this as your go signal. Clients are the ones you serve, and the first-hand witnesses to the way you deliver. They can be the most unbiased, especially since they are outside the company you work for.

What is even better is if these clients tie strongly with the industry you are in. So, if you treat them right, a good word is always on the way.

How do you write a character reference: The dos and don’ts

Now that you have determined who your prospects are, let us take a look at how to ask. You did not think to just drop them in your resume, did you? Much like asking for someone’s time, having a reference list means you already asked them beforehand. You cannot expect them to entertain a cold call from a company asking about you. You have to prepare them beforehand.

So how do you go about this in a courteous manner? We list three dos and don’ts to approaching this.

1. Write a letter of request to list them

When asking for a person to be a reference, dropping a casual text is not the way. Depending on your relationship, you have to still approach them in a professional manner. Do this by writing a letter of request. We have provided a template to guide you below.

Composing a letter gives you the respectful upper hand. Doing this says that you are asking for time out of their schedule on your behalf. Aside from that, you can also flesh out what experiences they can talk about with your potential employer.

2. Do not force a reply

It may take a while for them to respond, especially if their schedule is hectic. Following up with them constantly can cost you in several ways, including a chance to refer. The most ideal way to go about it is to prepare your list beforehand and send out letters prior to application. That way, you already have the names at the ready anytime you need a blast.

If you wish to follow up with them, you can wait for 5-7 days before you send out that request. Even then, you can just drop a line and ask if they saw your letter of request. But do not be pushy. Instead, have a set of backup references that can fill the list up.

3. Be grateful

Receiving the good news does not stop at the contract signing. You did not get there all by yourself, after all. People contributed to your acceptance. So it is good to share with your references if you secured the job. More than that, be sure to thank them for their good words.

In the same breath, let them know if you did not secure the role too. Be sure that if they need references in the future, offer to reciprocate the favor.

Also read: How to tell your boss you’re leaving for a new job

How do you write a character reference letter?

First and foremost, a character reference letter is a letter of request. Keep the letter brief and straight to the point. Most of all, be courteous with your words and detail what you wish for them to highlight.

Below you may find a character reference sample letter you may use to send out to your potential references. Make sure to edit your letter according to the person you are sending it to.

Mr. Charles Novales

Director of Sales and Marketing

GHI Company

Pasig City, Philippines

Dear Mr. Novales,

Greetings! I am writing to inform you that I have recently applied for the role ofDirector of SalesatIJK Company. As part of their pre-employment requirements, they require character references. In this regard, I would like to request for a letter of recommendation from you, given our time together at GHI Company.

Your good word would greatly help in the application process. As you mentioned previously, you have seen me grow throughout my stay in the company under your wing.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do so and I hope to hear from you soon.

Warm regards,

Jason Santos

Having a good list of references is like having your very own support team. They can help you get to where you professionally want to go. At the same time, their testimonial can make your career even more fruitful than it was before. Use your ties to your advantage and continue to build bridges with people. You never know who can help you during your time of need.

It’s time to kickstart your career so #LetsGetToWork! But before anything else, make sure you take a look at our comprehensive Career Tools to ensure you get the help you need.

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