60 Second WORKout... References - Be Prepared!
You know it's coming. At some point in your job campaign you're going to be asked for the names of 3 - 6 references. You need to be prepared. You've got to present the right people to the company, and feel confident that they're going to properly represent you. Follow these tips and make your references more effective advocates for your cause!
Brief them. Do your references know about your present and past job searching activities? Do they know what kind of job you're applying for? You should always provide your references with this information. Feel free to forward a copy of your current resume to them.
Who do you know? You will be judged by who you know. Ideally your references should be people from an organization at a management or professional level. If these people are recognized as leaders or are well known in your community, their words will carry more weight.
Always get their permission! You always have to get permission from the person that you're using as a reference. You don't have to contact them every single time that you use their name, but you've got to make sure that you've had recent contact and they're clear about your job search activities.
Pick the right references. Friends and relatives would typically be more than happy to give you a rave review. Unfortunately they won't move your application too far along. Former employers, community officials and other known leaders are the ones that you want testifying for you.
Choose the people who know your achievements. There's nothing better than having someone else talk to a potential employer about some of your outstanding accomplishments and past achievements. These stories show you in action, and demonstrate the kind of value that you could bring to the organization.
Proper contact information. Double-check the contact information that you have for your references. Make sure that the information is current and valid. You should include their name, job title, place of employment, work address and phone number. If possible, it's better to use a work address rather than a home address.
Thank your references. When you know that one of your references has been contacted, make sure to thank them and to tell them what happened. The more interested that they are in your job search, the more likely they are to give you a better reference next time.
A successful job campaign involves many things. Although reference checks come later in the job search process, take some time right now to make sure that you're well prepared. A great reference can have a lot of influence over the final yes/no decision by a hiring manager!
Reprinted with permission