Job References: A Few Tips to Help Them Help You

OK, I know you know that a job seeker needs to provide references to a prospective employer. But do you know all the fine points for ensuring that a reference really helps you get the job?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Professional references rank as more important to an employer than personal references.
  2. Select your references as soon as you know your job target. Choose wisely – make sure they will speak well of you and your work. A personal phone call from you is required with your request for them to serve in this role.
  3. Your references need to be prepared to speak to your prospective employers about your work history, skill set, qualifications – all in relation to the job for which you are applying.
  4. Ask several professionals to be references for you. Then you won't have to use them all every time you interview for a job. You don't want to become a pest.
  5. Never offer references to a prospective employer until after you interview – unless specifically requested before your interview. Again, you don't want to ask for help from references until absolutely necessary.
  6. Send your resume to each of your references. This will make their job easier when speaking with your potential employer.
  7. Create a professional reference list to leave with prospective employers following your interview. Do this by making a letterhead template using your resume as a model and typing your reference list beneath your letterhead after deleting the resume content. Include all means of contact for each reference along with their job title and how you know them.
  8. Most references will let you know when/if they are contacted on your behalf. Be sure to send them a thank you note.
  9. Stay in touch with your references, particularly if your job search is taking longer than you had originally expected. You don't want your references to become stale – keep them fresh!
  10. When you do land your new job, contact every reference individually by phone to thank them again for their help. A small professional gift, such as a business card holder, is also a nice touch.

Treat your references with your best customer service manners. They are like gold and can make or break your chances for getting the job!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Career Check-in on Your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions

Have you forgotten your 2010 Career New Year's Resolutions? Not much sense in doing anything about them now. WRONG! It's never too late.1972280  

Here's the list of seven that I posted December 30, 2009. Take a look and see which ones you've mastered this year. Pick at least one that you can work on today! Refresh your job search; pick up your pace on career retooling toward your career change. And pat yourself on the back if you've mastered at least two of these!

2010 Career Resolutions

** I will make it easy for recruiters to find me. Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?

** I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.

** I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.

** I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care. Keep your mind smart and your body toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).

** I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?

** I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested009 interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a Career Coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a Career Coach.

** I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly. 

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

#Jobseekers: A Job Search Tip

You've had your resume professionally written. You've posted it on job boards and sent it to target companies. And now the phone is ringing! You schedule an interview. You prepare for the interview, including polishing your shoes and role-playing tough job interview questions. The big day is tomorrow and you are ready!

Wait a minute – haven't you forgotten something?

Hopefully, you have contacted several people who will act as professional references for you. But did you send them your resume? Yes, resume. Even if you worked side-by-side with your references and they have first hand knowledge of your work performance, it's critical that you send them all your resume. Why?

When potential employers contact your references, they will have your resume in front of them. Don't your references deserve the same? Believe me, it will be much easier for your references to sing your praises if they have had the opportunity to brief themselves on what you've shared with hiring authorities.

And one more thing, please let your references know when you've interviewed and given their contact information to a potential employer. A prepared reference will act so much better on your behalf than a reference who receives a surprise phone call.

Now go get that job offer!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Is Your #Career in Recovery or Retreat? (All Joking Aside)

Don't be fooled by the sense of false security implied with being employed. This state of being can change in a flash – poof! Suddenly your job can be gone. You, and only you, are in control of your job security. Quit hunkering down under your desk and get proactive! Take charge of your career; begin enjoying your work life again.

The economy has started its recovery – why haven't you? Are you still fooling yourself by hanging onto your job for dear life? According to a recent CNN article, "Take This Job and Tolerate It," the frequency rate of people leaving jobs by choice is close to the lowest point since 2000. American workers are choosing to let fear drive their careers instead of passion. Sounds like the April Fool's joke may be on them this year – and maybe you, too?

Overwhelm from being over-worked and under-paid is not a work life you want to maintain. Instead, start today to find the career where you can be happy and feel appreciated again. Find the career where your values are honored in the workplace, where your mind is stimulated, and your skills are utilized. Find the career where you know in your heart this is where you want to be. Don't be fooled by continuing to believe that your employer will take care of you – that old joke has worn itself out long ago.

Utopia? Not really. It IS possible to attain career and job satisfaction. But this ideal career must first be defined, molded and purposefully pursued. Here a few tips to jump-start your career change process:

  • Make two lists: one is what you do well and the other is what you like to do. Where do these lists intersect? Chances are the clues to your ideal career appear in this intersection.
  • Need more training to qualify for your ideal career? Go get it! No one is ever too old to learn new things. Careers are rapidly changing (I still remember keypunch operators, now long gone from the career landscape). Learn about employment trends so you can see what careers will still be viable 5-10 years from now.
  • Write your resume to attract the ideal employer for your ideal career. Better yet, hire a professional resume writer to craft this resume for you with your input. You need objectivity to determine what's most important to include in this door-opening document. Your own bias can cloud your opinion on relevancy of information.

Still feel stuck in the process? Hire a career coach to be your partner for your career change. Some things are just done faster and better when done with a careers expert who can challenge you, brainstorm with you, offer you resources, and celebrate your successes with you.

On this April Fool's day, what will be your choice? Continue to keep doing nothing (which you know is getting you nowhere) or step onto the playing field by becoming proactive in your career? Stop being fooled by employers' empty promises and uncertain futures – your career belongs to you. Make it what you want it to be!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter, as well as follow everyone's individual tweets that are based this month on an April Fool's Day theme.

Career-Collective-original-small 10 Ways to Tell if Your Job Search is a Joke, @careerealism

April Fool’s Day – Who’s Fooling Who? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

If It’s Not You and It’s Not True, You’re Fooling Yourself, @GayleHoward

Don’t Kid Yourself! (The Person You See in the Mirror is a Good Hire),
@chandlee

Avoiding Most Common Blunders, @jobhuntorg

 
 
 
 
 
 

Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage yourself, @erinkennedycprw

Same as it ever was, @walterakana

Don’t be fooled. Avoid these, @kat_hansen

Job Seekers: You Are Fooling Yourself If... @barbarasafani

It's not all about you, @DawnBugni

Jump-start Your 2010 Job Search with 7 New Year’s Resolutions

It's that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another. Many make New Year's Resolutions fully intending to keep them, but seldom do. Whether it's to lose weight, save more money, be nicer to in-laws, spend more time with your kids — speaking your intention is only the initial step to success. Creating a plan and then working it will bring you much closer.

This is particularly true when it comes to your job search. If you've been out of work or laid off for any amount of time, overwhelm and apathy may have set in. Yes, it's difficult – very difficult – to keep going. Rejection is the most painful emotion to feel, even when you try so hard not to take it personally. Now, more than ever, you need a job search buddy to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully, you took some time off during the holidays to focus on YOU and your self-care. You'll need every ounce of this renewable energy as you renew your job search in January.

To help boost your job search as we enter 2010, I've made a list of recommended New Year's Resolutions. Not in any particular order, each offers its own importance to assist you.

  • I will make it easy for recruiters to find me.Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?
  • I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.
  • I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.
  • I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care.Keep your mind smart and your boday toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).
  • I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?
  • I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a career coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a career coach.
  • I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly.

While writing these resolutions, I see that there are so many more that could be added. What are your comments? What do you consider to be the most important New Year's Resolutions for job seekers?

1972280

Wishing You Job Search Success and a Happy New Year!

Meg