Five Tips For Choosing Job References
Whether you are filling out an initial job application or are further along in the hiring process, you may be asked for a list of references that your potential employer can contact. While your resume and cover letter are your chance to outline or explain why you’re the ideal candidate for a position, a reference is an opportunity for a third-party to discuss these aspects from a new perspective.
The references you choose should be individuals you have worked closely with and who can attest to your abilities -- your past work experiences, work ethic, skills, and even your overall character.
Not quite sure how to go about finding the best references? Keep reading for our five best tips!
Carefully consider your choices for references
While you can’t necessarily control exactly what your references will say, you do have the power to choose who your references will be. Before narrowing down your options, consider the questions that recruiters or hiring managers might ask references and decide who from the following groups will be able to accurately and positively answer them. Questions can include specific examples regarding responsibilities or accomplishments, whether or not they would want to work with you again, if there is any room for potential growth, and general questions about how you behave in a professional setting.
With these questions in mind, consider these potential options to use as a job reference:
Current managers or co-workers: Asking present managers or co-workers can be tricky if you haven’t informed everyone (or anyone) at your current position that you are looking for a new role; however, they can be the best option because they are the people with the most up-to-date information regarding your experiences.
Past managers or co-workers: If you’re not in a position to ask your current managers or co-workers, people that have held these titles in the past can be the ideal reference. Your managers and co-workers have seen how you handle responsibilities and know your ability to communicate and collaborate within a team. Depending on the amount of time you spent at your past positions or the skill level you had at the time, these references can also discuss the growth or improvements they witnessed throughout your time working together.
A referral at the company you are applying to: Having an internal reference from the company you are applying to can ensure recruiters or hiring managers that you are a reliable employee because you have already established relationships and trust within the organization. It’s important to note, however, that finding a referral at a potential employer doesn’t just mean finding an employee on the company’s LinkedIn page and asking if they’ll vouch for you. Instead, this person should be someone you have had in your professional network for some time or that you have previously worked with that will be able to discuss your potential for the role in question.
Past professors or academic advisors: If you’re a recent graduate that is new to the workforce, your professional network might still be in its beginning stages. This means you might not have very many references to choose from. In this case, try reaching out to a past professor or academic advisor who would be able to speak about your abilities. As an entry-level candidate, having a strong reference can really help you stand out from the competition if you do not have much work experience to show for yourself.
Ask your references for permission
Before including anyone on your reference list or giving their information to a potential employer, you should always ask for permission. Being contacted out of the blue can catch a reference off-guard and they might not be prepared to speak about your abilities or accomplishments. Asking for permission can give your chosen references an ample amount of time to look back on your time as an employee and put together a few discussion points that reflect your best work.
Provide updated contact information
Once you have your chosen references, be sure you are giving your prospective employer the correct contact information. While you may be used to speaking with your reference on their personal phone or email address, be sure to consider if this is the way they would like to be reached by an inquiring recruiter or hiring manager or if they would rather use a work number or email address.
If your job search has taken longer than expected, be sure to also confirm that the contact information you had in the beginning of your search is still the correct information now. For example, if your reference’s working conditions have changed since you last spoke (i.e. if they are now working in-person as opposed to remotely) be sure you’re giving the correct details to reach them.
Give your references an overview of the job description
Let your references know which positions you are applying to and give them a brief overview of the job description. This will help them get a sense of the skills they will need to highlight when speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager or writing a letter of recommendation. It can also give them an opportunity to discuss specific examples of your work experiences that pertain to your potential new role.
Keep your references updated on your job search
After all is said and done, be sure to update your references on your job search. If you have not been asked for a reference yet but already have your reference’s permission to use their contact information, let them know when you are asked. This will give them time to prepare their recommendation and carefully think about what they would like to say. Once you’ve moved forward in the interview process or have gotten the job, thank them for their help and let them know they do not need to continue working on your referral. If you were not chosen for the position, ask if they would be interested in being a reference for any new positions that you apply to and continue to update them as your search continues.
Have your references ready to go but still searching for the perfect role? Contact Nexus today for a personalized recruitment plan. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to help you find your next opportunity!
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