Use Your Job References Right!

August 22nd, 2013 | Articles, Interviewing, References | No Comments »


If a new job is like that person who makes your head spin from across the room at a party, your references are like the wingmen who selflessly work to help you close the deal. Good job references are there during your hour of need to talk you up and tell great stories that give you an added allure in the company. So, if you want to use your references to the fullest, you need to follow this game plan.

Choose them wisely

Not everyone is job reference material. You can obviously eliminate people who will actively sabotage your efforts but some prospects, despite their best intentions, should be left on the sidelines with the rest of the wallflowers. Those who get nervous when questioned and those who can’t sell your desirable skills as an employable candidate shouldn’t be on your roster. Pick charismatic storytellers who can conjure up anecdotes about your accomplishments and make them sound amazing.

Select your “A” team

Once you’ve handpicked your wingmen, you will need to choose the right ones for each specific position. Since the entire application process should be tailored to the company focus and personality, your references should be no different. Certain skills and experiences appeal to the company; logically, references who can back up and amplify those characteristics in you are the ones you want to call upon.

Don’t be a fair weather friend

Your job references need to be a part of your life. If you just keep them on reserve and expect them to be the cavalry after months or even years of being incommunicado, you might find all of your resources are gone. People will go the extra mile for someone they consider a friend but an acquaintance from the distant past…not so much. So, keep those social ties open and check in from time to time. Arrange to meet at a coffee shop. Call periodically or send regular emails updates. A strong connection guarantees that they will fight harder for your cause.

Outline key talking points

Ultimately, what your references say about you is their prerogative but you can always coach them on your major talking points. That way, there can potentially be some symmetry between what you and references have to say, drawing hiring managers more and more into your mystique.

Say thank you

This is overlooked far too often. Sure, your charisma and qualifications may have helped you make a huge dent in any oppositions to hiring you but your references added that little extra push that got the unstoppable boulder rolling. Send a message, call, or pay a visit to say thank you for their smooth contributions. Even if you don’t end up getting the job, people like to know that their efforts are valued. And if your references ask you to return the favor, willingly hook them up with the jobs of their dreams.

by James Walsh

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