How Can a Personal Reference Help An Applicant?

Today, most jobs require some sort of reference. This will usually be a reference from your previous employer or an employer from an industry related to the one you want to get into. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, it’s a better idea to supply a personal reference in lieu of a professional one.

For example, you might not be able to provide a working reference — either because you are no longer in contact with your former employer or because you don’t have a work history. Alternatively, you might find the reference from your previous employer doesn’t really match your needs. However, even if you have managed to secure a fantastic job reference from a previous employer, a personal reference can be a great way of differentiating your application from other applicants and making sure you stand out. 

In this article, we’ll go through the details surrounding personal references and hopefully leave you with an idea of how to secure a personal reference which puts your best foot forward. 

Who Can Provide a Personal Reference?

Generally speaking, anyone who knows you personally can provide a personal reference. However, it’s usually better for your reference to come from someone in authority within the community. The following are usually good examples of people from whom a personal reference will mean the most:  

  • Teachers 
  • Lecturers
  • Coaches
  • Group or Club Leaders
  • Religious Leaders
  • Business Aquantenances 
  • Volunteer Leaders

Who Should a Personal Reference be Addressed To?

A personal reference should be addressed to the hiring manager of the company you’re applying to or the HR official you’ve been in contact with. This is because a personal reference should be thought of as a personal communication between your referrer and your hiring manager on your behalf.

What Should Be in a Personal Reference?

A personal reference, at its core, is very similar to most other references or personal statements. It should be succinct, yet long enough to give the hiring manager a good idea of what kind of person the applicant is and the kind of relationship they share with the referrer. 

Speaking more specifically, there are two pieces of general advice that the writer of a personal statement should consider: 

  • Attention to detail is best — use actual dates, figures, and the like as much as possible in order to provide as much detail and context as possible. 
  • The best character references are inspired and tailored to the applicant’s job. 

Keeping these things in mind, your personal reference should concentrate on your character and how that character is suited to the job you’re applying for. Specifically, your referrer should look at how  you demonstrate the following skills, abilities and qualities.  

  • Leadership Abilities 
  • Communication abilities — including your customer relations and external communications skills 
  • Personal ethics and work ethics 
  • Personality and creativity 
  • Problem solving skills
  • Any soft skills you possess, including your leadership attributes, patience, and empathy
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Time management

The reference should also cover the entirety of your relationship with the referrer and demonstrate how you’ve grown over the time that you’ve known each other. 

Contact Building Better Opportunities Today

Building Better Opportunities is a financial and welfare advice charity based in Staffordshire, providing services to Stafford, Stoke-On-Trent, Newcastle Under Lyme and the surrounding area. For more information about how we can help get you back into work, get in touch with us today.