The Break Room

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How to Choose & Ask for References

Nov 9, 2016, 13:08 PM by Jessica Calliari

The job search process has many important documents and moments from the resume and cover letter to the interview and job shadow, making it is easy for the reference list to get lost in the fold. Despite the perceived insignificance, many hiring managers rely on these references as a form of validation for all the information that is put forth during the interview process. In this post, we will go through the steps of formulating a reference list to ensure the right decisions are made in this crucial step of landing a job.

Step 1: Select the References

While family and friends may be able to provide a positive character reference, most employers are looking for someone with knowledge of how you work. These professional references, which may include former supervisors, co-workers or clients, have the ability to let the prospective employers know what kind of person and worker you are. Before the search for a job even begins, a wish list of possible references should be done. Once the wish list is finalized, you should select three to five of your top choices and ask them if they would be willing to help you out when the time comes. An important consideration to make when narrowing down your reference list is evaluating your connection with the selected person given the length, familiarity and recency of the relationship. The longer, closer, and more recent that you’ve worked with someone, the more likely they will be able to give an accurate and detailed description of your abilities.

Step 2: Solidify the Relationships

It is crucial that you continue to build on the current relationship you have with your references. You should make sure you and your reference are on the same page by having a face-to-face meeting or phone call to discuss all that is going into the job search. During this meeting, go over your qualifications and accomplishments that you would like your reference to mention to the employer. After the meeting is over, make sure you thank them and keep them updated on how the process is going. It is important that the reference feels appreciated as they are giving their time and effort to help you.

Step 3: Format the Document

In the end, when you are finally handing over the physical copy of the references, make sure it is presented in the correct fashion. The reference list should be given as its own document, not connected to a resume or cover letter, giving it the importance that it deserves. In terms of what the reference should look like, it is fairly standard and basic in appearance. You should list at least three references, with the one that has the most to say on top, providing their name, job title, company, relationship to you, and contact information. This makes it easy on the employer to check the references which gets you one step closer to landing the job.

If you would like to learn even more about references, check out the previous post here.

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