In many cases, a job reference can make or break your chances with a new employers. Unfortunately, many job seekers don’t put a lot of thought into choosing their references. Before you put someone’s name down on your application or your resume, take a little time to make sure they are the right person to showcase your abilities and talents.
Let’s look at just a few of the things you should be thinking about before listing someone as a reference.
1. Make strategic choices. Instead of just randomly choosing people you’ve worked with or for in the past, take the time to pick the references that are going to give you a strategic advantage. For example, you’ll want to target references who excel at networking. Chances are they already know the hiring manager you’re trying to impress. Look for references who know you well and can answer questions if they are put on the spot. Nothing is worse than giving a reference who only knows you vaguely and can’t answer questions.
2. Dispense with standard letters of recommendation. The old “to whom it may concern” reference letter is tired and in most cases, will be completely ignored by the hiring manager. Instead of using these letters, ask your references for personalized letters if they have time, or dispense with this step entirely.
3. Avoid using references at your current place of employment. Unless you have made it clear that you are leaving and it is a good situation, never include references from people you are currently working with. It can make for an awkward situation and if you haven’t been public with your job search, you may end up walking into a trap and end up without a job.
4. Contact your references. Before you list anyone on your resume, you need to follow-up with each one. This serves two purposes. First, it will refresh them on you and it’s always best to connect and ask permission to use them. Second, you’ll be ensuring that their contact information is current. Listing out of date references just doesn’t look good and may harm your chances of landing the job.
It’s a nice touch to send your references a thank you note after you’ve made contact with them. Remember, they may be the deciding factor and you want to thank them for the time they’ve spent helping you.
Do you have questions about including references with your resume? Ask SelecSource for the guidance you need to land the job you really want!