A Final Job Search Hurdle: Choosing Professional References

You’ve passed through the HR Resume Black Hole, you’ve even secured an interview and done well. What other hurdle do you have to clear? An important one — the reference check. Be assured that employers definitely do check your references, so make sure you have them prepared, professional, and as positive as possible. Here are some tips for choosing the most appropriate references to make you look even better:

  • Keep it professional. If you’ve been in the working world for a while, choose (current and former) bosses, managers, or colleagues who have worked with you and can attest to your strengths and skills. (As a side note, it’s acceptable to tell a potential future employer you’re keeping your job search confidential and ask him not to call your boss until you’ve had a chance to speak with her.) Sit down and put together a list of who you think will provide you with the best review — either before the interview, if possible, or immediately afterward so you can give them ample time to put something together. If you’re a recent college graduate without a lot of job experience, ask a professor or adviser to talk about your dedication and focus regarding performance.
  • Keep it focused. Once you’ve made your list, see which people will give you the best reference for this particular position. If you’re going for sales, perhaps you can ask one of your most satisfied customers to give you a reference. If it’s managerial, have a supervisor or a trusted co-worker ready to promote your leadership skills. If possible, speak with your references to tell them about the position and what you’d like them to emphasize.
  • Keep it positive.If, by chance, you left your last job due to differences with a boss or supervisor, it’s acceptable not to ask that person for a reference; you don’t have to ask a superior just because she worked above you if the reference won’t paint you in a good light; a co-worker will work better in that situation. Particularly if it’s your most recent position, you want to have at least one person as a reference or a potential employer may wonder why nobody will speak up for you.
  • Keep it accessible. While you do not have to add the references along with your resume (unless asked), have a list at the ready to either email or present at the interview. Most employers ask for at least three references, so have those ready with full names, the company they work for, relationship to you, address, telephone, and email. When asking for the reference, it’s both sensible and thoughtful to ask what telephone/email they would prefer the potential employer use to best reach them. And if you have a LinkedIn profile, it doesn’t hurt to ask former employers, clients/customers, or co-workers to write you references that will show up on your profile…and be ready to do the same in return.

Taking these steps will ensure that a future employer will get the best possible picture of you as a future employee. For help selecting the best references, contact the expert staffing team at PrideStaff Thousand Oaks today!



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