Legal professionals worry about lots of things in relation to their careers. Over the next few months we will look at some of these issues and give you our insight into the reality of the market. If there are issues you’d like me to address in this series just let me know.
Will my references lose me a job?
References are taken up only with your express permission. This is typically done towards the very end of the recruitment process following one or two interviews, offers having been made and accepted. Rarely are they taken up sooner and only if there were some specific reason for doing so (i.e. you were not currently working).
‘Employers do not have to give a reference but if they do it should be fair and accurate, some employers may only give a factual reference stating dates of employment, job title and salary.’ – ACAS
In practice I can honestly say I have never known someone to refuse to give a reference. References are often much briefer these days maybe just stating the job title, dates, the salary and the reason for leaving. Often people worry that an employer who was not happy with them leaving will give them a bad review. In practice that does not happen, to prejudice someone’s future employment simply due to personal ‘dislike’ would step over the line and potentially cause huge problems for the referee.
In all my years involved in recruitment I can honestly say I have only known one case of a job being refused on the basis of references. That was when the references were fraudulent as someone was trying to pass off referees for their dad (with the same name) as referees for them! The second referee was his girlfriend! I hasten to add this was not a solicitor, rather an ill-fated recruitment at the legal training company that I worked for.
So will references lose you a job? The answer is no, unless you are hiding significant skeletons in your closet! If we were representing you then we would hope that you would trust us and tell us about those skeletons anyway!