Oct. 18, 2016

3 Must Follow Tips for Choosing Your Job References

You’re a champion. You just nailed an interview for a great job you’ve fallen in love with. Way to go! Next comes the reference check. You did prepare your job references, right? Effective professional references can be the difference between landing your dream job or settling for your backup.

Read through our three tips for choosing job references to ensure that you close the hiring process as strongly as you began and land the job you deserve.

1. Decide if your job references can communicate what you need

Assessing the ability of your professional references to communicate effectively is key. Perhaps you’ve worked for a brilliant person who is more than happy to give you a glowing review. And perhaps they would be capable of giving a great review in person, but if doing so effectively via an email or a phone conversation isn’t their forte you should probably omit them as a reference. It would be a shame to have worked so hard in the interviewing process, only to have a trusted reference fail to finish for you.

2. List job references who are movers and shakers

Assembling a list of top-shelf executives, high-level managers, and other important people in companies you’ve worked with in your professional career is a great first instinct. These job references carry a great deal of weight and it’s wise to make sure you aren’t loading your list of references solely with coworkers and working acquaintances. But be careful—executives and senior managers are only useful as job references if they are familiar with you and your work. If they can’t recall working directly with you and can’t personally vouch for your work, including them as a job reference can cause more harm than good.

3. Tailor job references by job

The same way every resume should be tailored for each job, so too should your list of job references. Think strategically in terms of what transferable skills your references can vouch for and which references might be best fitting for each particular job. We all love our first boss. But if your first boss can only account for your ability to fold shirts in a clothing store, using him or her as a reference for your accounting or managerial skills might be misplaced trust.

By making sure that you’re deliberate and targeted in the people you are selecting as job references you’ll be well on your way to landing the job you’ve always wanted. And remember—always get permission before listing someone as a reference, inform them before they are contacted by a business, and always follow up with a heartfelt thank you.

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