It goes without saying that the references you provide should be people who like you and who have a good idea of the quality of your work. This video will help you to review your references and make sure they have positive things to say, show how to prepare your references and ensure their availability.
- Have you ever had a reference give a poor review of your work to a future employer? How would you know? How many references should you have? The standard is three, right? So is that your final answer? Let's go back to your resume for a moment to help answer these questions. Your resume is supposed to be customized to fit the job you are applying to. If you have three different types of jobs you are currently applying to, are those three people qualified to discuss your skills as they relate to each of the different job types? You probably haven't given it much thought.
Most people pick three to five references and they are their go to people for every job regardless of skill level. Does it matter if they're a peer, a supervisor, or someone who reported to you? Do you know that people in HR are not going to give you a real reference? They'll probably just verify dates of employment and leave it at that. Did you know that some companies have a policy about whether or not they can give a reference at all? Before you put someone on your reference list, make sure you have spoken to that person and had a conversation about what type of job you are seeking, and which particular skills you would like them to focus on.
Ask them if they feel comfortable giving a positive review of your work, and let them know that it's okay if they don't feel informed enough to give a good reference. It's better to know up front that they don't think they have enough information to make a determination about your skills than to have them tell your future employer that, because they will. Even if someone was your reference earlier, that was then. If you have started a new job search, don't assume that person continues to be willing.
You may assume that your old supervisor enjoyed working with you so much that they have no problem continuing to act as your reference even though it's been years since you worked together. But the further away you get from a past employer, the larger the effort needs to be on your part to ensure you have an active and willing reference. Even if you had an excellent working relationship at the time, don't assume they remember that now if some time has passed since you last worked together. You need to jog their memory for them.
Another reason to check in with a prior reference is to update their contact information. They may have a new phone number or email address, and if you have listed someone as a reference and they're not reachable, this can delay a potential job offer. What if they're on sabbatical? Or a month long vacation? Or maybe even a medical leave? If you haven't spoken to them, you wouldn't know this. I know from experience that when a candidate provides a reference and that person is unreachable, I start wondering just how long has it been since this candidate spoke to their reference? I begin questioning the candidate, and the worst is when you actually get a bad reference.
Only once has someone come right out and said don't hire this person. But there are lots of other ways to get the point across, from I prefer not to comment, to we didn't work together long enough for me to comment on her abilities. You could see that neither of those are comments you would want a future employer to hear if they were asking about you. Preparing your references will help make the process easier, and it will ensure your references are providing the most relevant information.
Talk to them about the types of jobs you are applying to, send them an updated copy of your resume, and let them know why you asked them to act as a reference on your behalf. Too often references are both an afterthought and a forgone conclusion. Don't assume you know what a reference will say, and don't assume they'll say anything at all. Taking these additional steps can elevate you above other candidates, and will help make the job search process a smooth one.
Stacey A. Gordon, cofounder of Career Incubator, has made it her life's work to help others find the jobs and build the careers of their dreams. In this course, she walks through the basics of resume writing for job seekers, as well as a few extra job search basics such as following up, sending thank-you notes, and identifying companies to work for and determining fit.
Stacey explains what you should include on your resume, what to exclude, and how to craft your resume to showcase your talents and best qualities. Using practical resume examples, Stacey walks through choosing the right resume format, tailoring the information to match job requirements, and writing alternative resumes that include industry-specific information. Last, Stacey shows you how to deal with some common sore spots—like job hopping, lack of experience, or large unemployment gaps—while concentrating on your experience.
- Writing an objective statement
- Adding a summary of skills
- Showcasing your professional work
- Presenting your education
- Customizing your contact information
- Tailoring your resume to fit a job
- Upgrading your resume
- Choosing a resume layout
- Writing resumes for marketing, entertainment, and design jobs
- Handling career gaps and job changes
- Standing out and following up with employers
- Using a resume effectively
- Determining fit at a prospective job
- Finding contacts at companies you want to work for