How do I get a good reference?
As an alternative to providing your old boss as a referee you could choose a manager/supervisor or client who was very happy with your work. But be aware that the recruiting employer is likely to ask why your old employers name isn't one of the referee?s. Be prepared with a diplomatic answer, keep it brief and hope it doesn't make things worse and not better.
When should I give them my references?
On your CV you can say 'references upon request' and then deliver them when requested to do so and not before. Sometimes recruiters will ask for the details before they hire you and will ask if it is ok to contact your referees before hiring. If you agree to them doing this then you must let your existing employer know that you are actively seeking work and that they may be contacted.
If you do not, then when your employer gets a call asking for references, your employer might be quite rude and unhelpful due to the 'element of surprise? and lack of warning! Be considerate to your current employer to ensure a positive reference response.
Can I put down a friend as a referee?
If you put down a friend, make sure you choose someone who may themselves be impressive to the new employer. Make sure they are competent and can speak clearly and write concisely and effectively. This person is going to be representing you so they need to be suitably qualified. Also ensure they are fore warned that they may be contacted.
Meanwhile be aware that employers are well aware that friends will 100% provide a positive 'biased' reference and so may consider it completely invalid with regards to getting a realistic view of your work performance.
How many references should I give?
The usual number is three but your new employer will advise.
Can I ask for a reference to keep, before I leave?
Depending on who you work for this could be a good idea. You could say that it is for your file and that it would provide you with a good indication of how you are doing and whether there are any areas for improvement. This may rouse suspicions that you are about to leave or it could work in your favour and keep them on their toes making more effort to hang onto you! But if they are suspicious, then be prepared for some serious questioning!
Can I ask other colleagues for a reference?
Target someone with a good position within the company and who you have a good rapport with. Someone who values your efforts. You need to ask their permission to use them as a referee before doing so. This is important as they may be reluctant or they may just wonder why you are asking them and not the boss. Explain your reasons and use lots of flattery. It can not hurt! Keep in touch occassionaly with old contacts in case you need to add them to your ''reference'' bank.
Can I tell my referee what to say?
When you ask your referee to provide you with a reference you can tactfully discuss with them your duties and contributions to the organisation. They may ask you what they should say and so you can be direct and tell them! Perhaps even provide some written guidelines. All this will very much depend on the sort of relationship you have with them. Some will not mind your proactive approach whereas others may view it as unconventional and not be best pleased!
Do I have to be nice to everyone before I leave?
Ingratiating yourself to your referee and those who may influence your referee is not a bad thing, but do not over do it!