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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

FCO Graduate Internship: An Insider’s View

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 21/02/2019.

Alice graduated from Oxford last summer and has provided us with an insider’s perspective on the FCO’s Graduate Internship which we blogged earlier this week and is now open for applications.

The scheme

The FCO graduate internship is a paid work experience scheme of up to 9 months which allows recent graduates to get taste for FCO work. What you will do on a day-to-day basis depends on which department you are allocated to – you could be working on a country desk, on a particular theme or in an operational role.

See the job advert [#1617790] and note that the deadline is midnight on 11 March.

Why I applied

I applied because of my interest in international affairs and desire to work in public service. This internship is a great way get an insight into the FCO/the civil service more generally without being tied down. For those interested in the Fast Stream, doing well at this internship gets you a ‘fast pass’ to the Fast Stream Assessment Centre, skipping the online tests that often cause people difficulty.

A day in the life

I have had some great opportunities so far. My day job involves conducting research, engaging with stakeholders within the FCO and in other government departments to make practical assessments about a varied and fascinating geographical area. I have taken on a lot of responsibility, writing policy submissions to ministers, working on FOI requests and running presentations to external stakeholders. My team are really friendly and keen for me to make the most of development opportunities – this is a work experience scheme after all! I have gained an insight into what working for the FCO overseas is like by visiting a British Embassy, been to see EU institutions in action and volunteered as a delegation liaison officer at an international conference. I have also had lots of formal training on diplomatic skills and am doing developmental Spanish language training.

My tips

The application/interview process has changed this year, and now focuses on success profiles and behaviours rather than competencies. You can find information on these in the job advert. The most import thing is to really tailor your examples to the question asked. If you make it on to the internship, be proactive – think about what you would like to get out of the internship and take the opportunity to meet as many people and take on as many tasks as possible.

Unmissable for Chinese students – the Warwick China Fair!

Blogged by Karen Walker on 21/02/2019.

Are you ready for the Warwick China Fair?

Taking place on Saturday 2 March between 10:00-15:00, the Warwick China Fair is mainly targeted at Chinese final year and postgraduate students and recent graduates (although all Chinese students at Oxford University are welcome to attend!). We are excited to announce that the Career Fair App is now available, as well as a webinar to help you plan your day!

The Career Fair App is available on both Android and iPhone – for more information about how to download and use it please have a look at our information page. It includes a list of all the employers attending, plus other information that they’ve supplied. Over the next week, more information will be added to the App, including info about the presentations and events taking place.

You can also watch the webinar Preparing for the China Fair 2019 kindly delivered by colleagues at the University of Manchester.

In addition to a careers fair, the event includes a panel presentation about the current Chinese job market from senior Chinese HR professionals, a session on visas, plus a series of employer presentations giving you the chance to meet and network with employers.

Employers in attendance will include:

CPA Australia, KPMG, Geely, Dyson, China Unicom, 51 Job, Mthree Consulting, Mars, AlphaSights, Hays Asia, British Council China,  Nu Skin, Hisense,  Decathlon, Xinlung Group, Tong Digital, Entrepreneurs Global, Gradlink, Dealmoon, XRS Online (TAL Group), FDM Group, AstraZeneca, Merck Group, Ambright Group, Lockin China, Zhaopin, Career Mentor, Hilti, EREC Estates, HungryPanda Ltd, Farleys Solicitors LLP and three senior HR Directors flying in from China and accompanying the British Council China.

Oxford only has a limited number of spaces for students at this fair – so make sure you sign up soon!

The Fair is organised by Warwick in partnership with the Universities of Oxford, Birmingham, Bristol, Aston and Nottingham.

UK Summer Internship Applications Now Open!

Blogged by Internship Office on 21/02/2019.

Apply for a UK summer internship by 11 March

You can now browse and apply for a wide range of exciting UK summer internships offered through the Summer Internship Programme. All opportunities are open exclusively to Oxford students, and can be applied to through CareerConnect.

UK placements feature a research and communications opportunity at the Royal Society for Tropical Medicine in London, a heritage internship in Scotland, and sustainability consultancy in Oxford. The deadline for applications for this batch of placements is Monday 11 March.

The Internship Office is offering application support sessions for prospective applicants to discuss internship ideas, and get advice on CVs and applications. These sessions take place at The Careers Service and can be booked through CareerConnect.

Please see our comprehensive application support guide for other ways to get support when applying to Internship Office Programmes. If you have any further questions, contact us on internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

ICSA Essay Competition 2019

Posted on behalf of ICSA . Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 20/02/2019.

ICSA Tom Morrison Essay Prize competition 2019

Want to be awarded for your original thinking? Fancy a chance of winning £1,000 (or £500 as a runner-up)? If so, make sure you enter this essay-writing competition which runs until 18 March 2019. The question is as follows:

In an increasingly automated world, robotics, artificial intelligence and other technological advancements are expected to have an impact on governance. Consider the opportunities, challenges, benefits and risks that such technologies might bring to the role of the company secretary.

Visit the ICSA website to find out more about the competition.

Insights into the world of governance with ICSA

Posted on behalf of ICSA. Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 20/02/2019.

Have you ever considered the roles of company secretary or governance manager?

These fascinating roles can lead you to a career in a huge variety of different organisations and businesses.  There are plenty of opportunities to discover more about these careers throughout 2019 through the activites of the Governance Institute – ICSA.

Insight Days: The governance teams from some big brands will be hosting them in 2019.

Or you might like to consider attending an Open Evening with ICSA to discover more. You can join them in London on Wednesday 8 May to find out what opportunities a career as a company secretary or governance professional can offer.

The event takes place at ICSA: The Governance Institute, Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London, EC1N 8TS. Doors open at 18:00 for a 18:30 presentation, refreshments are served 19:30 – 20:30pm. Places are limited so register now to discover how to get your governance career started with ICSA. Book your free place here.

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