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Have online recommendations killed the need for references?

Updated: 14 Apr 2016

Referees are still very relevant in today’s jobs market despite the explosion of social media and online recommendations, says recruiting experts Hays.


According to Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China, online recommendations are great for showing the skills you are best known for but they are not a substitute for the role references play.


“The referees recruiters and employers value the most are those people you reported to directly,” he said. “These people can speak about how you used your skills and experience to add value to their organisation.


“Former managers can also speak to your personal attributes such as reliability, ability to build and leverage relationships and whether you collaborate well with other team members.”


According to Hays, it’s a good idea to keep track of where your referees are as they too may have moved on from the organisation where you both once worked. “If you leave finding people until the moment you are being asked for their contact details, it will cause you unnecessary stress,” says Simon.   


“There’s also such a thing as referee etiquette that you should follow when job hunting. It may have been a number of years since you last looked for a job, so you should contact your referees to ask if they are still happy to speak on your behalf before including them on your resume or providing their details to anyone.”


When you know you have been shortlisted for a job or a recruiter asks you to supply at least two referees, Simon says it is then time to let your referees know they will soon be contacted and by whom. If you don’t know the specific person, just let them know the name of the recruitment firm or employer organisation.


“It’s also helpful to provide your referee with a bit of detail about the job and the key skills, qualifications and attributes the employer is seeking,” said Simon. “You might also outline some of the examples of your work and achievements that you will be relaying in the job interview from the period of time when you reported to your referee.


“You don’t want to tell your referees what to say but because much time may have passed since you both worked together, jogging their memory about genuine achievements could be helpful to them as well as you.”


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


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For further information please contact Kathy Lou, Marketing Manager of Hays in China, on +86 (0) 21 2322 9600 or


About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.


Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.


Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company with more than 7,800 staff operating from 239 offices across 33 countries.


Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.