Don’t underestimate the importance of your references! They can make or break your next position.
Finding a job in the domestic staff industry can be a stressful time. Through the process of re-writing your CV, applying for positions, attending interviews, and doing your follow ups, references can get put on the back burner.
If you’re applying for a domestic staff position you’ll be working closely with high profile families and their luxury properties, so you can almost guarantee your references will be checked. If a family is deciding between you and a handful of other candidates, your reference may be the deciding factor.
Here’s why references are so important and how to create good ones:
What is a reference?
A reference -or an employment reference- is someone who can comment on your previous work experience, work ethic, and character. Professional references should be provided to your domestic staff recruitment agency or your future employer as part of your application.
Why do you need to have a reference?
You should always have at least 2 or 3 references prepared at the time of the interview. Have them ready on paper and electronically for emailing. You need references to be able to back up/ prove your past work experience, your work ethic and your character.
Your references should be able to confirm the work experience you’ve listed on your CV (meaning the dates/duties should line up with what you describe on your CV), cover letter, and any other letters or emails you present to the employer.
Always make sure that all of your references’ contact information is up-to-date and error-free. Include the following information about your references:
- Full name
- Position in company and/or relationship to you
- Current telephone number
- Current email address
What makes a good reference in the domestic staff industry?
A good reference is one that talks positively about you and your work. Having a few good references can be the deciding factor in getting the job offer. Similarly, having one bad or a not so great one could cost you the job. For example, a great nanny reference will include information from the referee about your childcare experience and how you interacted with the children. As a nanny, you want your nanny reference to clearly outline your skills and qualities when dealing with children.
What is the difference between corporate references and domestic references?
Corporate references are the ones that you will receive from a hotel, a resort, a restaurant or a company in general.
Domestic references are received from a private household, either from the employer him/herself or from their PA/ House Manager.
Corporate references typically won’t comment on a personal level and will just confirm dates/years of employment, whereas a domestic reference (like a nanny reference) will generally shed some light onto your character and what it was like to work with you.
Why can’t I just provide a written reference?
Although written references are great and it’s always a very good idea to ask for written references from your ex-employers, recruitment agencies have a duty of care towards their clients to thoroughly check references. This is normally done by phone, as recruiters will be able to get a better feel of the whole situation, but on some circumstances references can also be checked via email. Serious recruitment agencies will never just accept a written reference; they will always do their checks properly.
What do prospective employers/ recruitment agencies look for in a reference?
When checking references on CV, a prospective employer/ recruiter will want to know dates of employment, job title and main responsibilities, attendance record, if the candidate was reliable, honest, hardworking etc.. Make sure the information on your CV is accurate and can be backed up by your references.
When checking a domestic staff reference, recruitment agencies will inquire about several points related to the candidate such as their reason for leaving, would they re-employ them if the situation arose again and would they recommend the candidate for their role.
Be sure your references are relative to the skills your showcasing on your CV. A nanny reference should contain information about the skills relating to childcare, a chef reference should discuss the skills in the kitchen, and a chauffeur reference should make comment about the driving skills. If you include references that can’t comment on the skills you need for the position you’re applying to, it’s unlikely that you will get the job.
What happens if one of my references isn’t positive?
If things did not work out well with your last job, you can expect to get a not-so-great or even a bad reference. So what do you do in this case?
Ideally you will resolve all your issues with your old boss before you leave the job, so when prospective employers call them, they will confirm at least dates of employment and job titles. Otherwise you will have to tell your prospective employer/ recruiter the truth without talking bad about your ex employer.
Unfortunately things like this happen and if you have loads of good references and one bad one (because you just did not click with the role or the team/ the household etc) it likely will not ruin your chances. As you know, honesty and transparency is highly valued in this industry and your references are one way to verify that you’ve been honest in your CV.
Who can act as my referees?
Usually prospective employers and recruiters only accept work references from ex-employers (or their PAs/ House Managers, someone who is allowed to speak about you on their behalf). Sometimes, a character reference is also requested and these can be either one of your ex employers, a teacher, mentor, or someone who is close to you and knows you very well. Your Mum or your Dad or other family members are not good references because their reference will likely be far from objective and impartial.
About Us: Polo and Tweed is a serious and responsible recruiter and we will ALWAYS make sure that we will check at least 2-3 of your references. If you are looking for a job right now, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to help you.