Job references if you have not worked before

Anyone can give you a reference for your first job if they know you and are not a family member. Think about the things you've done in your life, and who knows about your skills and what you're like as a person.

Employers ask for references because they want to find out if you can be trusted, are reliable and can do the job. Anyone can give you a ‘professional’ reference if they know about your skills and achievements. Think about:

  • teachers, lecturers or instructors from school, university or any other type of course
  • work experience managers
  • volunteer managers
  • people who know you who are in paid work
  • people from your community
  • friends.

Some employers will ask for ‘character’ references. You can ask anyone who knows you well.

People who can give you a good reference

People will be good referees if they:

  • are professionals rather than friends
  • can be contacted easily when you apply for a job
  • have known you for a long time

Stay in touch with people who can give you a good reference.

Volunteering can help

If you’ve volunteered in a role related to the job you’re applying for, your referee can say that you have the skills for the job. Ask for a reference at the end of your placement.

Volunteering to develop your skills for work

Asking people to give you a reference

If you think someone could give you a reference, ask them if they’re happy to do this. How you ask depends on your relationship. You can ask friends face-to-face or by text. Ask professionals if you can or send a polite email:

Dear [name],

I hope you are well. I am applying for jobs as a [job role] and was wondering if you would act as a referee in my applications? If this is OK, could you please forward me your full contact details? Many thanks for your time.

Kind regards,

[your name].

Most professional people will know about providing references. If you get a job offer, make sure you can give your referees' details such as:

  • phone number
  • address
  • email
  • job title
  • relationship to you.

And let your referees know to expect a call!

Employment information supported by Virgin Media.

We're working with Virgin Media to support 1 million disabled people in getting into and staying in work by the end of 2020.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 22/05/2018

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