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:
- Professional references rank as more important to an employer than personal references.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Send your resume to each of your references. This will make their job easier when speaking with your potential employer.
- 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.
- Most references will let you know when/if they are contacted on your behalf. Be sure to send them a thank you note.
- 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!
- 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!