Have you wondered why you didn’t get called in for an interview when the job was a perfect fit? Maybe it was because when they contacted your references, something went wrong. Good references are one of your biggest assets in a job search because they are independent witnesses who testify that your skills and work habits are suitable — that you will be a good fit for that job. But since references are real people, things change.
Choose Your References Carefully
The buddy that you party with every weekend is probably not going to be a good reference about your professionalism, right? Think about who will be an authority in your career search; someone who understands the work involved and who has seen how you work. This means supervisors, professors, and those you have served with as a volunteer.
Look at the reference the way an employer would and think about the type of questions that will be asked:
- How long have they known you?
- How have they worked with you?
- What problems have you had in the workplace?
Check With Your References Regularly
Ask your reference first, before you put their name down, as a professional courtesy to them. But even if someone has told you it’s okay to use them as a reference, you need to ask if they will be available when you expect a potential employer to contact them. The professor you worked with as an intern may be out of the country for a few months and unavailable, for instance.
It’s also a good idea to make sure the contact information you list for your references is accurate and current. Queries sent to an unused email address will not help your job prospects, will they? Neither will phone calls that are never answered or wrong numbers. It’s always a good idea to check your references before the employer does so you can verify that they will be available and able to provide the positive reference you need to get that job.