by Carol Ronis, Career Coach
You nailed the final interview and things are down to the wire. Now, it is time to fill in the application and provide references. “No sweat,” you say to yourself, “I’ve got this.” You scroll through the address book on your phone and you are done.
NOT so fast!
References may be the difference between getting the offer and continuing your job search. The individuals you select should be able to speak to your accomplishments, ethics, skills, education, and dependability. Each reference should be carefully thought out, vetted, and informed. And, even then you are not quite sure the outcome.
The hiring company may have some guidelines. For example, you must use only direct supervisors from prior jobs; no employers may be used as a reference; personal acquaintances are permitted however family members are not; and the list goes on. What this indicates is that requesting references is a very important part of the job search process and one that must be taken seriously.
With that said, here are some helpful pointers to for choosing the best reference for your job search.
- Be strategic.
Have a list of eligible references who know you and you feel comfortable having them speak about you to a potential employer. Whether it is your tennis partner, high school friend, or manager at a past job, the persons you choose need to know you well enough to answer questions that will frame you in a positive light.
- Be prepared.
Divide your list into categories thereby giving you options should the employer have a set of guidelines for providing references. Confirm the information you have is current and accurate. When you are able to include a combination of professional and personal references, select individuals with whom you have history, will speak highly of you, and on whom you can count.
- Get permission.
Contact the individuals you will be listing as a reference. Let them know about the position, what you will be doing, and any additional information that may be helpful for your reference to provide information that will flatter you and create a positive outcome.
- Wait until you are asked.
Don’t include references on your resume and hold off on supplying them until you are asked. You may want to create a single page titled “References” that matches your resume that you can give to the employer upon request. The references included can change based on the job and company.
- Say thank you.
Saying thank you is extremely important – so don’t forget to reach out once your current job search is complete. While the company may not have contacted your reference, she was willing to take the time and help you in securing a new position. A handwritten note, email, or phone call is recommended.
In closing, be sure to select your references with the same care and thought you give to refining your resume to match the position, preparing answers to the tough interview questions, and picking out the outfit you are going to wear. References are the final leg of your quest for the job of your dreams.
by Carol Ronis, Career Coach, JCS Career Center
“What Makes a Job Candidate Stand Out?” is a special JCS program on Thursday, December 17 at 6:00 pm at the Baltimore County Public Library in Owings Mills. A panel of experts will share insider tips for how to make yourself stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market. For more information, click here.
The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment assistance that helps job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resume and cover letter services, interview preparation, job readiness training, vocational rehabilitation and job placement assistance. Visit www.jcsbaltimore.org or call 410-466-9200 for more information.