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References & Referees | The Careers Service References & Referees – Oxford University Careers Service
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Choosing referees

When you choose your referees, make sure they are well informed about what you are applying for and why – try to choose individuals who will write you the best references. They should always be the people who will be best able to attest credibly to your talents in a professional/academic capacity. Always check with the referees beforehand to get their agreement.

Unless you are applying for an academic job or further study, you will typically need two referees. As a student, you should normally get a tutor and a past employer, if possible. They should not be relatives. If possible, let your referee know when you need the reference returned by.

Whether to provide references

If referees are asked for explicitly, make sure you provide their names and contact details. By not doing so you may fail to comply with the minimum requirements that have been set by the employer as part of their recruitment process and, in any event, are likely to raise the employer’s suspicion in terms of your former studies or work history.

However, if they are not explicitly asked for, many people now do not add referees to the end of a CV (or sometimes state ‘References available on request’), trusting that references will then only be requested by an organisation that is seriously considering your application.

One advantage of leaving them off is that referees’ details can take up valuable space on a CV. They will normally be asked for at a later date – or on a separate application form – if the recruiter is interested in you.

However, if the names alone of your references convey the strength of your application, for example if you are applying for an academic position and your referee is well known for his or her research in the relevant subject, it might be wise to leave them on!

References and rights

Does a previous employer have to provide a reference?

There is no legal obligation on an employer to provide a reference for an employee or an ex-employee. Employers are therefore entitled to refuse to provide a reference. However, an employer should have a consistent policy on providing references otherwise it could be at risk of an allegation of discrimination.

Can a referee provide a bad reference?

If you have any doubts about whether a referee will be able to highlight your strengths, discuss the matter with them in advance. Very few referees will ever give a ‘bad’ reference, if they’ve accepted the responsibility of giving a reference, but they might give a vague one if they haven’t known you well, or recall you only faintly!

Ultimately, there is a duty on those giving a reference to take reasonable care to ensure that the information it contains is true, accurate and fair. This therefore does not prevent the referee giving a bad reference, so long as it is accurate and a reasonable reflection on work related matters.

Can I check what a referee writes about me?

There is no obligation on your previous employer or education provider to give you a copy of the reference they have sent to your prospective employer. However, you can request a copy from the organisation that receives the reference, subject to their duties to any third parties.

This information was last updated on 19 July 2018.
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Recent blogs about References & Referees

Charityworks Internships for BAME Students: Deadline Approaching

Posted on behalf of Charityworks. Blogged by Annie Dutton on 14/12/2018.

The Charityworks Taster Programme gives talented Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and graduates a top-class experience of working in the non-profit sector alongside the professional development tools needed to launch a professional career that can change the world. The programme also gives students fast-tracked access to the acclaimed Charityworks Graduate Programme in 2019. There are 40 opportunities available, and the deadline for applications is 17 December.

Charityworks places and develops top talent into organisations across the sector and includes amongst its partners, Mind, NSPCC, Unicef, Barnardo’s, Marie Stopes International, Christian Aid, National Housing Federation, RNLI, LGBT Foundation and many more.  Roles are as diverse as frontline, HR, fundraising, campaigning, finance, business development, IT & systems, research, policy and more.

If interested, apply here.

Apply now for The Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences!

Blogged by Fiona Sinclair on 14/12/2018.

Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences…

The purpose of the Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences programme is to provide early career researchers (DPhil students, RAs, and postdocs with an opportunity to develop the core employability skills required for a transition into analytical or policy roles in the sector.

Participants volunteer some of their own time to work in teams, over a 3-4 month period, to address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation in the health and life science sector. the programme is open to all disciplines and will offer participants a unique insight into the health and life sciences sector.

but it isn’t just about consulting!

The programme will provide participants with an opportunity to:

  • Experience an Assessment Centre and hone their presentation skills
  • Develop key employability skills such as business and customer awareness, strategic thinking, creativity, team working and communication
  • Demonstrate key employability skills in their CV and in job interviews
  • Tackle strategic business issues and opportunities and make a contribution to the sector
  • Gain an awareness of the commercial, social and behavioural contexts of professional environments.

Apply now

Applications for the Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Health and Life Sciences are now open. The closing date is 16 January (noon). APPLY HERE

If you have any queries regarding the programme, please email courses@careers.ox.ac.uk

Applications open for The Agency – Hilary Term 2019!

Blogged by Fiona Sinclair on 12/12/2018.

The Agency in Hilary Term…

The Agency was developed by The Careers Service and the Oxford Advertising and Marketing Society to help students gain practical experience working within an environment similar to a traditional creative agency – with real client projects from local businesses, charities and community organisations.

You will be working in small teams of six over one academic term to find a creative solution to an intellectually challenging problem.

… it isn’t just about marketing and advertising!

The Agency will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Develop application and assessment centre skills;
  • Increase commercial awareness by tackling strategic business issues and concerns;
  • Gain specialised skills for working in a creative agency;
  • Develop other key employability skills useful in any career such as self-management, team working, problem solving and communication;
  • Produce demonstrable examples of keys skills for your CV or for use in job/internship interviews;
  • Contribute to the local community and gain work experience.

Apply now

Applications for The Agency programme in Hilary 2019 are now open. The closing date is 8 January (noon). APPLY HERE

To find out more about the programme visit The Agency webpage, or email us on courses@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Become a student ambassador for the Creative Industries Federation

Blogged by Lara Hayward on 06/12/2018.

Are you considering a career in the creative industries? Are you a passionate creative and looking for a new challenge? For current higher and further education students who have an interest in the creative industries, the Creative Industries Federation (“CIF”) are piloting a new Student Ambassador Programme. CIF Student Ambassadors will be representatives for the membership body at their universities, helping to spread the word about events and opportunities in the creative industries while making the most of the insight, research, events and networking benefits that the Federation can offer them.

A great opportunity to learn more about the creative industries and add experience to your CV.

For more information on the programme, click here.

Roundhouse Co-working Hub: Mentoring and masterclass opportunities in the creative industry

Blogged by Lara Hayward on 06/12/2018.

A new co-working space at the Roundhouse

Many people know the Roundhouse as a gig venue, or a place to see theatre, dance or circus. But what many people don’t know is that each year, 6,000 young people (aged 11-25) also come to the Roundhouse to take part in projects or use rehearsal and studio space right underneath the main auditorium where so many people have seen a show.

The Roundhouse’s Centre for Creative and Digital Entrepreneurs is a co-working space within the new campus, which will be built in the Roundhouse yard and will comprise three large studio spaces and a new outdoor bar for audiences. It will allow the Roundhouse to work with young people, up to the age of 30, so that they can support the next generation of record label owners, film producers and tech innovators to achieve their dreams. Through desk space, mentors and masterclasses they will help young people build their future in the creative industries. For further information on the pilot, see the Roundhouse Chief Executive and Artistic Director Marcus Davey’s blog post here

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