How to Pick Exceptional Job References

April 28th, 2014 | Resume | No Comments »

Job Reference AE

If you are searching for a job, consider this: hiring new employees can be an enormous expense for employers.

Screening, interviewing, training, and satisfying new employees can cost companies thousands. A bad hire is equivalent to washing all that money down the drain, so it’s no surprise that hiring managers tread with caution and ask for job references (they definitely don’t want to hire someone with unsubstantiated experience).

That’s why everyone needs an exceptional list of employment references. If chosen carefully, your references can affirm the authenticity of your achievements and act as your very best character witnesses.

However, there is a definable difference between good and bad job references. Ask yourself these questions whenever you pick references for a position.

1.) Are you still in touch?

If yes, precede. If no, reestablish the lines of communication before listing that person as a job reference. Only use people who are up-to-date on your achievements and who are currently invested in your success.

Here’s why: Let’s say you were called unexpectedly with questions about a coworker from your distant past. How eager or informed would you be about selling that person in your responses? Surprised employment references are going to react the same way.

2.) Is he or she relevant for the position?

Not all employment references are ideal for every job position. Any former coworker from a company not listed on your resume should be excluded from the list you provide.

If you include non-professional references (fellow community organizers, religious mentors, etc.), their testimonial should not only emphasize your relevant interpersonal skills, but have occurred in recent years – think two to three.

3.) Can he or she articulate your achievements?

This question can help you substantially narrow down your list of references. You may still be in touch and he or she may link back to relevant experiences, but can that person articulate why you are good for the current job position?

A strong employment reference needs to do more than just have coinciding work history. That person should fit the following criteria:

  • Have first-hand experience with you on projects
  • Know how you overcome obstacles
  • Communicate articulately

4.)  Is he or she informed about what to say?

Your job references shouldn’t be left in the dark about what you want. Your references should know their contact information has been sent to a hiring manager and the experiences you want them to emphasize.

Remember: you’re not asking them to be dishonest. You’re simply coaching them on what truths will tie in your focus during the interview.

One a final note, rid your resume of this…

Have you seen resume examples with “references available on request?” This was once commonplace but has widely fallen out of practice. References unnecessarily take up space on your job application (remember: your resume should be clean and trim as possible). Plus, “available on request” overstates the obvious.

by James Walsh

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