Just the Job: Choose your referee carefully to maximise job chances

Q: I am down to the final three for a job and I think I might be about to get it because they have asked me to supply them with a reference from my recent employer apart from my current. However, I had an uneasy relationship with the managing director (MD) there and I’m afraid if I give his name it will rebound on me when they contact him. What should I do? (AC, email)

A: There is no requirement to give the MD as your referee. You are entitled to put forward the name of a person who managed you and who is likely to give a good account of you – this could be your department manager, supervisor or, if the picture happened to hang properly, the MD. It’s your choice.

People can get very uptight about having some bad relationships or career blips in their past. The reality is that these issues occur at some time for almost everyone and the trick now is to simply give the name of the person who will speak best of you.

You should also prepare your referee for that call. Tell them about the new role, the kind of work you will be doing there and the skills you will be deploying, so that they can prepare an answer to complement the employers’ needs.

To quote a famous politician, ‘’just get it done’’. Get the right person speaking for you. Onwards and upwards and hopefully you will get the job offer you feel is imminent.

Q: I haven’t had a CV in years – not since I left school in 1989, and there’s been a lot of water under the bridge in the meantime. I threw it out years ago but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a good place to start as I’ve been reading a lot about the new approach to CVs and I’d welcome some guidance from you on how long you feel a CV should be? (ED, email).

A: In an ideal world, your CV should not exceed two pages. It is your job to distil your CV into as brief a format as possible so that the reader doesn’t have to wade through lots of irrelevant information. We live in an era of reduced attention spans and the requirement to sell yourself quickly and effectively is paramount.

Don’t look upon your CV as a place where you capture every twist and turn of your career to date. It should be a much more tailored document than that and should address the needs of the employer who will read your CV.

How do you find the needs of the employer? That governs everything you do when applying for a job: research their website, talk to people who work there, talk to people who worked there previously, talk to people who work in similar companies.

Through all of this research, you should get to the bottom of what the company is about and, if you can at all, the exact specifics of the role you are pursuing.

Without that kind of research, your CV cannot be a strategic hit on the company that it needs to be to get noticed.

Slí Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com. Email your questions to getthatjob@slinuacareers.com.