How to Make the Most of Your References

Offering references in your resume is not really dangerous, but the risk rises once a hiring manager calls them. For one, your references may either no longer work in the company, hesitant about answering questions about you, or worse, not even remember who you are.

References hurt job seekers more than they know, but they are one part of your job search that you have complete control. The following steps may help you develop an enthusiastic panel of references.

Assume your references will be checked – It is a misconception that employers are not going to call references. Most companies actually check references during the hiring process.

Ask permission before listing a reference – Too many job seekers do not even make references aware that they are being listed. Not only it is standard courtesy to inform them as such, asking permission eliminates many of the problems that references cause to job seekers. Your contact would usually tell you if he or she doesn’t want to serve as a reference. This also eliminates references who do not remember you. Also, this informs you who among your references are able or willing to vouch for you considering that many companies prohibit their employees from providing any information other than job titles and dates of employment.

Make sure your references are comfortable speaking on your behalf – It’s not just what they say, but how they say it. Hiring managers know in an instant if your references isn’t pleased to be giving information about you. If you sense a hesitant reference, offer a polite out.

Verify your information – Make sure that the phone numbers, job titles, company names and addresses for your advocates are correct. Hiring managers feel frustrated over long lists of references and didn’t talk to any of them because they have either left the company or changed contact numbers. After you have verified the information, present it in a professional manner. Your list should be typed on letterhead-quality paper that matches your resume. Always bring the list with you at an interview your when applying for a job.

Coach your references – Spend between 10 to 15 minutes talking to each person you ask to serve as a reference. Discuss with them your job goals, outline, the qualities and skills you are emphasizing in your job search, and give each a copy of your resume.

Have back-up references – Sometimes employers would ask for other people whom they could contact aside from your references. In that case, consider suggesting a mutual contact. Remember to follow the same steps about verifying information, asking politely, and coaching them.

Keep your references informed – Make yourself the center of your network. Update with them regularly on how your search is progressing. Tell your references about the requirements of each job and refresh their memories of your qualifications and instances when you demonstrated the skills the employer desires. Remember that references are active in the corporate work force and can provide job leads and encouragement during your search.

Choose references based on job requirements – If you intend to land a job in human resources but you are promoting your marketing skills in your resume, it’s unlikely that you would get the job. In that case, you need to provide a different slant on your skills and experience. Same is true for references. List references based on the skills you want to spotlight for a particular person.

Rotate your references – If you are conducting a very active job search, rotate your references as a courtesy. This will save two or three people from being contacted by every employer who checks your references.

Choose your references based on what they can say about you – Many job seekers are tempted to name drop. Try not using the president of your previous company if you can refer your direct supervisor, or listing a golf buddy who is a well-known business leader. List only references who are well-acquainted with your work and feel comfortable talking about you, starting with your former supervisor. If your new job will be a supervisory position, include a former subordinate.

Consider a reference check as a good sign – Employers would only call references if you are viable. It is often one of the last steps before a job offer is extended.

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