Advice on references

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    So, my question is this-on the section of applications where you have to put down your first reference, it will sometimes say 'Current/last employer'. Does this first reference HAVE to be your most recent employer-it is an absolute requirement of the application process? Or can it be someone else who employed you within the last 1-2 years?
    The reason I am asking this is because-now, I won't bore you too much with the back story, but right now I am applying for jobs, and I have been primarily using two references who are presumably saying very good things about me, as I am getting interviews, though I haven't landed a job yet.

    In my most recent job, however, things didn't go that well-again, I won't bore you with the details, but long story short, though I understand the reasons why the employer chose not to renew my contract, everyone I know has agreed I wasn't treated entirely fairly-which just sometimes happen in the workplace. The employer even acknowledged that I was a very hard worker. But I think, because she holds her staff to a very high standard, and I wasn't meeting those standards the way she wanted me to, she felt she had to let me go. I was also dealing with health issues at the time, which have now been resolved by undergoing surgery, which I think might've contributed to what was perceived as a bad performance.

    Now I've realised that career (working as a teaching assistant) just isn't for me, and I am applying for some new positions in different job sectors, which I believe will give me the experience I need to do what I really want to do. But the few jobs I've applied for with her as a reference-its not just that I didn't get them, the employers didn't even bother to contact me to let me know I didn't get it-even in instances where I was really well qualified, and worked really hard on my statement. So I'm thinking whatever she is saying isn't too favourable. But any time I use someone else as a reference-I am always contacted, and quite often get an interview.

    So, in conclusion-do you think I NEED to put this woman down as my first reference even though she may ruin my chances to be considered for the position, or will they accept someone who employed me from 2014-2015 as my 'current/last employer'? I only worked for this woman for 5 months anyway.

    Sorry for the long post, but any help/advice would be hugely appreciated, thank you.
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    Hi. If you suspect your previous employer is giving you only an average reference I would not use her. Plus the fact you only worked there for five months. I would just leave her/the work out altogether if you think it is going to be to your detriment. But...and perhaps others will correct me; I thought a previous employer HAD to provide a good,positive reference regardless?
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    (Original post by markova21)
    Hi. If you suspect your previous employer is giving you only an average reference I would not use her. Plus the fact you only worked there for five months. I would just leave her/the work out altogether if you think it is going to be to your detriment. But...and perhaps others will correct me; I thought a previous employer HAD to provide a good,positive reference regardless?
    I don't know, I'm not sure I could explain away a 5 month gap in my employment history. Plus, one of the two references I'm using is the co-worker at that school who I was closest to, who had a very good impression of me. So I would like to find out if anyone thinks putting someone in the last 1-2 years as the current/last employer would work-or would it rule me out from the application process entirely?
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    Also, as for the legality of it-she did tell me, when she let me go, that she would have to write in the reference that I 'needed to work on my initiative'-I didn't realise how big an impact that would make, and may be whats giving a bad impression to any prospective employers.
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    (Original post by markova21)
    Hi. If you suspect your previous employer is giving you only an average reference I would not use her. Plus the fact you only worked there for five months. I would just leave her/the work out altogether if you think it is going to be to your detriment. But...and perhaps others will correct me; I thought a previous employer HAD to provide a good,positive reference regardless?
    A reference has to be honest. Therefore, if you weren't a good worker, you won't get a good reference. In particular, a referee will be expected to refer to any disciplinary matters and if you left under anything other than mutual agreement. There is no obligation to only provide a 'good' reference, the legal requirement in 'honest'.
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    (Original post by ivymerrow)
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    Are you looking for jobs in education? The reason I ask is that education is one of the few areas where employers take up references prior to interview. Otherwise, employers rarely take up references before they make an offer to a single person, and almost never before interview.
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    No I'm not looking for jobs in education anymore, I've realised I don't suit the profession. But in any case, I think I'm going to put the person who employed me back from 2014-2015 as my first reference, I think they should accept it as its still a very recent employer. I think it makes the most sense-though if you have a different opinion on the matter feel free to share.
    And I never had any disciplinary matters, even she agreed I was a good worker, it was something else that led her to not renewing my contract. Its simply the fact that she informed me she would have to tell prospective employers I needed to 'work on my initiative'-thats whats had me worried.
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    (Original post by ivymerrow)
    No I'm not looking for jobs in education anymore, I've realised I don't suit the profession. But in any case, I think I'm going to put the person who employed me back from 2014-2015 as my first reference, I think they should accept it as its still a very recent employer. I think it makes the most sense-though if you have a different opinion on the matter feel free to share.
    And I never had any disciplinary matters, even she agreed I was a good worker, it was something else that led her to not renewing my contract. Its simply the fact that she informed me she would have to tell prospective employers I needed to 'work on my initiative'-thats whats had me worried.
    In that case, I doubt very much the referee is the issue. Employers simply don't take references up until they make an offer 'subject to references'.

    My personal opinion is that it is up to me to choose who I put up as a referee, not the potential employers job to demand certain people. However, if a potential employer does ask me for a specific contact, after they have made me an offer 'subject to references' I'd give them the details. They are perfectly at liberty to do their own research and ask anybody they want about me anyway.

    As an employer, if I get a reference for someone that is generally good, but contains one slight criticism, so long as that isn't a trust issue, or something that is core to the job i'm recruiting to, I tend to dismiss it and just see it as an honest reference. The references that are 100% joy and puppies and bunnies are not necessarily the most credible and useful!
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    Sorry, I realise now that the jobs where I didn't get a reply back were for schools-I changed the sort of jobs I was applying for shortly after, as well as the referees I was using. So for those jobs where I didn't receive any reply at all they might have taken up references prior to interview.

    And thank you very much for this additional information from the perspective of a employer, that really puts me at ease. I'm thinking that if the application process really does require a reference from my MOST recent employer I can provide that on request, but for the actual application I will stick to the references I know I can rely on.
 
 
 
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