Seen these icons?

If we have events, jobs or news that are relevant to the page topic, you can access them by clicking on icons next to the print button.

References & Referees | The Careers Service References & Referees – Oxford University Careers Service
Oxford logo
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.
Loading... Please wait
Recent blogs about References & Referees

Arts, Advertising & Media Fair 2018

Blogged by Corina Lacurezeanu on 18/10/2018.

 

  • When: Thursday 25 October, 14:00-17:30
  • Where: The Careers, Service, 56 Banbury Road

Full details are in the fair booklet – now available to download.

Meet creative professionals

  • Find opportunities in a wide range of creative sectors;
  • Meet creative professionals to learn about routes in and how to gain experience;
  • Speak with relevant student societies;
  • Bring your CV along to get feedback in our CV clinics. Appointments given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Attend our fair talks:

  • Researchers and/or alumni@ Arts, Advertising & Media Fair. Pre-fair talk: 13:30 – 14:30
  • Working in PR and Brand Consultancy, 14:45 – 15:15
  • Working in the Creative Industries, 15:30 – 16:00
  • Insight into Theatre with the Oxford Playhouse, 16:15 – 16:45

Meet recruiters:

  • Butterfly London
  • City, University of London
  • Darktrace
  • FTI Consulting
  • LEWIS Communications Ltd
  • Mountview
  • National Film and Television School
  • News Associates
  • Oxford Student Publications Ltd.
  • Palm PR & Digital
  • Portland Communications
  • Press Association
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Seven Hills
  • Sotheby’s Institute of Art
  • Tamarindo Communications
  • The Value Engineers

Week 3 and 4 Workshops for Researchers

Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on 18/10/2018.

CV and Cover Letter Skills Workshop: Last Few Places Remaining

Join us on , for an interactive workshop on CV and Cover Letter Skills for DPhils & Research Staff. Get tips on drafting effective applications, then apply them to your own CV and cover letter. Bring a printed copy of your CV and a sample cover letter with you. 22 October, 13:00 – 16:00 at the Careers Service.

Science Policy and Communications at the Science, Engineering and Technology Fair

Come along to this talk at the fair to hear from three people whose early careers span policy and communication roles in diverse private and public sector organisations. Bring your questions! 27 October, 12:15 – 13:00 at Exam School.

Insight into Academia: Should I do a Postdoc?

If you’re considering the pros and cons of embarking on postdoctoral research, this seminar is for you. Explore whether postdoctoral research is right for you, what its value might be both within and beyond academia, and how to plan to get the most out of a postdoc position. The seminar will propose strategies to help you think through this decision and understand both the conditions in which a postdoc could work well for you as well as viable, attractive, alternatives. 30 October, 13:00 – 14:00 at the Careers Service.

Book places for all events now via CareerConnect

For a head start at our careers fairs: Join our pre-fair meetings

Blogged by Rachel Bray on 18/10/2018.

Don’t miss your chance for 2018: This week hundreds of employers keen on your training and experience are coming to Oxford to understand what YOU seek, and discuss what they do.

To help you find the right people to speak to,and have insightful conversations, we now offer:

  • Fair booklets with a handy opening index flagging companies interested in recruiting and offering internships to PhD graduates and/or postdocs. Download the booklets via each specific fair within Michaelmas term here.
  • Pre-fair meetings on getting the most from the fair with our specialist Careers Advisers.

Places are limited – Use CareerConnect to book your spot now for:

Researchers & Alumni @ Careers in Computing; 12:00-13:00, Tuesday 23 October, The Maths Institute

Researchers & Alumni @ Arts, Advertising & Media Fair; 13:30-14:30, Thursday 25 October, The Careers Service

Researchers @ Science, Engineering and Technology Fair; 10:00-11:00, Saturday 27 October, Exam Schools

*Extra bonus* At the Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, we will start by hearing from an employee from an exhibiting company about why they like to recruit researchers, for what kind of roles, what doctoral graduates  find most interesting, and the work-place culture. Short Q&A to follow.

 

Insight into Medicine, Michaelmas Term 2018

Blogged by Claire Chesworth on 18/10/2018.

If you are thinking about a career in medicine then spending time shadowing a doctor is extremely important, not only to help you decide whether a medical career is right for you, but also to enhance your UCAS application to medical school. The Insight into Medicine programme will be running again in 9th week of Michaelmas Term and provides an opportunity to spend a day with a hospital consultant in Oxford (Monday 3 December or Tuesday 4 December). The programme is specially designed for those students who are finding it difficult to arrange medical work shadowing; any current matriculated student (undergraduate or postgraduate) of Oxford University is welcome to apply.

For further details, including how to apply, you need to log in to CareerConnect; search for ‘Insight Into Medicine’ in 9th week under ‘Careers Service Events’. Places are limited and the closing date is Friday 9 November.

CV and Cover Letter Skills Workshop: Last Few Places Remaining

Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on 18/10/2018.

Join us on Monday 22 October, 13:00 – 16:00, for an interactive workshop on CV and Cover Letter Skills for DPhils & Research Staff. Get tips on drafting effective applications, then apply them to your own CV and cover letter. Book a place now via CareerConnect; bring a printed copy of your CV and a sample cover letter with you.

This page displays current related blog posts. If none display, you can still stay up-to-date with our newsletter sent regularly to all Oxford students.

Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.