"Employment references are professionals who can comment on your personal character, work ethic, past work experiences and abilities to perform specific duties."
It's important to have your references prepped and ready to go as you move into the job hunting, career change stage of your life. Being given a job offer and then scampering around trying to find appropriate references and their contact information won't give a good impression to your new bosses. You don't have to hand in your references until you are asked for them which is usually at the verbal job offer stage, but they should be all ready to go.
"Almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants. " - monster.com
Who to Use for Your Professional Reference?
The first choice would always be your current supervisor. This is an easy choice if your partner has just been transferred to another city and you are relocating. A little more difficult if you are looking for a new job because you want a change, specifically of boss. Your reference doesn't have to be a "manager", it could be a more "senior" co-worker who is working with you on your current project. If your reference is from a previous position then a supervisor/manager would be the best choice.
Start off by making a list of people you have worked with in the past and had a good relationship with. List the projects you worked on that were completed successfully and who your supervisor and co-workers were. Check out your previous performance reviews, which supervisors were complimentary towards you. If there are individuals on this list who can also relate to the new position you are applying for - great.
Get Back in Touch
Thank goodness for LinkedIn, it has made keeping in touch with previous co-workers much easier. But finding them on LinkedIn isn't enough. You need to actually call these individuals and ask them if they remember you and if they will give you a reference. If you have lost touch, you want to reconnect and build your relationship back up.
When you are talking to them explain the position you are applying for. Reconnect about old projects you worked on together. Give them a heads up when you get to the job offer stage, so they can be expecting the call. We all deal with telemarketers and the last thing you want is your reference thinking your potential employer is a telemarketer and hanging up on them.
Include on your list their name, company, position and a day and night time contact number. Ask them if there is a time preference for receiving a phone call. This list should look professional, a white clean 8 x 11 piece of paper, not names on little post-its.
Prepare Your References with What Information Can Be Provided About You
References will be called so make sure they are prepared. Large companies use reference services to do their reference checks. Companies who use Recruiters will sometimes have the recruiting company do the reference checks or the actual hiring managers will call. Either way there are only certain things they can ask in a reference check. Make sure your reference is going to give you glowing comments about the following questions:
- Length of employment?
- Previous job title?
- Brief details of responsibility?
- Overall performance?
- Time-keeping and attendance?
- Reason for leaving?
- Would you re-hire this employee?
- Keep in Touch
Follow up with your references after you start your job with a big thank you and remember to stay in touch. You never know when you may need a reference again. Or you may want to go and work for them in the future.
Keep Your Reference List Up to Date
New references from your most current jobs, volunteer or community experience should keep getting added to your reference list with up-to-date contact information. But that doesn't mean you lose track of your older references. Network, Network, Network! You never know when you may be able to help someone from your past or they may be able to help you.