Of all the steps involved in the job search process, people perhaps overlook references the most. However, reference checks serve as an integral part of any employer’s hiring and interviewing process and should not be regarded lightly.
In today’s job market, it’s common practice to list “references available upon request” on your resume. However, you need to make certain that you have a solid list because you will be asked to provide it.
Always wait until you’re asked for your list of references before presenting it. In addition to names and titles, this list should also include phone numbers (a work number and a cell phone number, if possible) and email addresses.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to provide references from your current employer. Companies are sensitive to the complications that can arise from listing those, so you shouldn’t be expected to provide them.
Compiling a list of sparkling references during your job search can be a time-consuming task if you don’t know how to approach it. Below is a list of five pro tips for gathering your references wisely.
#1—Provide a “home run reference.”
That’s a reference the prospective employer already knows. While that’s a tall order to fill, you can use some deductive reasoning to ascertain which people most likely fit that description.
#2—Use references in your area of specialty.
Specifically, start with your previous supervisor. The key is to list people to whom you’ve reported, either directly or indirectly. If you’re a recent college graduate, your references should include professors in your academic major, administrators, and extracurricular advisors.
#3—Only include helpful references.
In other words, only use references who are willing or able to take the time to help you. Listing somebody who can’t be reached or who doesn’t return phone calls doesn’t bode well for you. That just wastes everybody’s time.
#4—Make sure that your references are people with whom you’ve stayed in touch.
Not only do you want to be remembered (the first step toward a positive reference), but you also want to give the prospective employer the proper contact information. If they call the wrong number, that’s going to be a bad look for you (and your prospective candidacy).
#5—Call your references!
Call each and every one of the people on your final reference list before you hand over your list. Tell the people who will be contacting them, as well as the position for which you’re applying. You don’t want them to be caught off-guard.
Remember, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Don’t give an employer any reason not to hire you. Sub-par references could be that reason.
No matter how good your resume is and no matter how you “Wow!” them during the interview, your references provide the final, all-important piece of the puzzle. They should make you instead of break you.
The Doepker Group has experience placing professionals in the Information Technology and Engineering fields, and we can place you, as well.