Coronavirus: information and updates

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 in person 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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