When you’re asked to give a new employer your reference details then you will usually have to give them one or two work references and a personal reference, or character reference as it’s otherwise known.
This can be anyone except for a direct family member who can vouch for you as a person… We explain.
Who should I ask?
Personal references are very different from work references. They are usually more detailed and talk about you as a person, explaining that you are a good character.
That’s not to say that you're the best person to party like an animal with at the weekend! Choose your referee carefully as your personal reference needs to be professional. It’s best to ask an old colleague or someone you went to school with who knows your work and can talk honestly about how competent you are. It’s always a good idea to ask them before you give their details to your new boss so they’re prepared!
What should they write?
You don’t want to bore your new boss with a massive reference talking about how AMAZING you are as it won’t sound believable and could be off-putting. Instead, they need to include a few lines about what you’re like to work with, using examples if possible.
We’ve done the hard work for you! Send this to your personal reference as a guide...
Character reference template
What if they give me a bad reference?
As with a work reference, if your personal reference gives you a bad write-up and they can’t justify why they wrote what they wrote then you may have a case for legal action if it then loses you the job.
It should be said that this is HIGHLY UNLIKELY as you can pretty-much choose who you want to give you a reference!
Bad reference FAQ