When applying for a position, you’ll spend hours agonizing over every last detail of your resume, and even more time writing and rewriting your cover letter.
But how much time do you spend fortifying your list of references?
Yep, that’s what we thought.
While we typically stress over details like our outfit, interview questions, and even a handshake, many of us don’t give enough thought to asking people to vouch for our professional accomplishments. A glowing reference could be what gives job hunters the edge they need to shine over the competition.
But how can you ensure that your references will actually help you get the job you desire?
Choose people with whom you’re friendly (but not too friendly).
With social media becoming more prominent in the background-checking process, hiring managers aren’t just looking at your profile, they also may dig into your references’ online persona, to make sure they are reputable as well.
Don’t just browse your own social media page, take a look at those of your references, to make sure they’re not littered with inappropriate pictures or memes (especially ones where you’re there too!). After all, your prospective employer doesn’t want biased feedback from a reference that appears unprofessional.
Make the reference request in person.
Email is normally a perfectly acceptable form of professional communication, but when it comes to asking someone to be a reference, do it in person (or at least on the phone!). You want to maximize your chances of getting a good reference. Calling or meeting in person is a great way to reconnect, engage them in career advice, and potentially offer work examples or wording suggestions that you believe would be most helpful. Working with your references in this way will likely make them feel more personally invested in your success.
Don’t tire your references out.
Just as you wouldn’t want to annoy a friend by asking them for too many favors, you also don’t want to overwhelm your references with repeated requests.
Never use the same reference more than three times, because it’s a significant time commitment for them. The last thing you want to do is disrespect your references by putting them in a position where they must constantly talk about your skill set. They’ll eventually resent you and not give the stellar reference you are hoping for.
Give your reference as much intel as possible.
To make the process as seamless as possible, whenever a hiring manager is ready to reach out, give your reference as many details as possible, such as the position in which you are applying for and who might be calling.
Also, verify how your reference would like to be contacted, such as by email or by phone. Check with the prospective employer to see if they will be emailing the request or calling, so you can let your reference know.
Format your reference list comprehensively and for ease-of-use.
The standard list of names and contact info is no longer sufficient for hiring managers. List exactly which attributes each reference can attest to. When you offer a comprehensive list in such a professional format, it can create an extremely favorable impression.
Always follow up with a thank-you.
Each time your reference supports you with a prospective employer, send them a personal thank-you note or, at a minimum, an email. Better yet, offer to take them out to lunch. Not only is that a good way to show your appreciation, you can fill them in on how the job search is going.
By following these simple details, you’re bound to get a reference who will tell prospective employers just how stellar you truly are.
(written by: wc)