Gathering Your References

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It used to be that you always ended your resume with the line “References Available Upon Request.” Now that statement is mostly left off of resumes because it is deemed a given that you have references and you will be able to produce them when asked. However, if you have been job searching over a long period of time, you need to recognize that your reference page or list is not a static list.
Who you use as a reference will depend on the type of job you are applying for. For example, it would be better to use a former boss who supervised you at the IT help desk when you apply for your next help desk position rather than someone who supervised you as a cashier. Professional references, people with whom you worked or who have supervised you, are usually preferable. However, some positions may allow you to use personal references too, friends or community members who know you well.
Keep in touch with your references. Make sure that everyone on your reference list is someone who will give you a positive reference. How do you know if they will give you a positive reference? You ask. Don’t hint around. Ask each person on your potential reference list, “Are you able to speak highly of my skills and qualifications to potential employers?” If you sense any hesitation in their response, do not use that person and move on to the next person on your list.
Provide each person on your reference list with a current copy of your resume or curriculum vitae. Also give each person the job description for which you are applying or at least a summary of the type of position you would like. This way, when your reference(s) is called by a hiring manager, he/she can speak with some knowledge of how your qualifications fit into the job requirements. Keeping in touch with your references helps them better able to speak to your strengths so that you get the job. It also provides good opportunities to network.

References and the Employment Process: What to do?

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References are a critical step in the hiring process. An employer WILL check yours. Most companies will call about 2 or 3 of your references and ask them different questions about you before they decide if you are the right candidate for their position. You need to make sure that your employment references will give a positive review about you and shower you with recommendations.To ensure you cover all your bases in getting positive feedback from your references, follow these 5 tips:
1. When you start your job search, take some time to sit down put together a list of at least 5 professional career references. Professional means a past supervisor, coworker, client, supplier, or anyone that you have had a close professional relationship with. People who carry the most weight, such as a supervisor, are best to use for references.
2. Never use someone as a reference unless you have discussed it with them first. You need to talk to them and ask for permission. If you want willing, enthusiastic and available references, then they need to be informed. It’s important that they are available. It’s annoying and it does not look good for you when your references don’t return calls in time. When companies get to this stage of the process, they want these references done as quickly as possible.
3. When you are asked by a prospective employer for references, only give them 3 out of 5 of your references. Use the other two as backups in case you have trouble getting in touch with someone. Call your references and let them know that they may be receiving a call from your prospective employer. Tell them that it is crucial that they return the call immediately. Ask them to contact you afterwards so you can discuss.
4. If you are doing a long period of interviewing, check with your employment references every couple of weeks in order to make sure they are still on board and not getting frustrated or annoyed with calls from your interview process.
5. Do not put on your resume, “References available upon request.” Ugh. HR managers already know this and it’s a very overused phrase. Do not put the names and contact numbers of your professional references on your resume. You don’t want just anyone and everyone calling up your references every time they see your resume. You should be in control of your references and know who is going to call them and when. Sometimes, recruiters and other companies will contact your references to recruit them. You’re the one looking for a job, so make sure that your references remain yours and out of the public domain.

Is Having the Wrong References Holding your Job Search Back?

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Having many interviews with nothing to show for it can be one of the most frustrating things to have to go through. You’re so close to getting a job offer but it just never materializes. If you can get interviews then there’s probably nothing wrong with your job-hunting strategy, your resume or cover letter. The problem could be related to your interviewing prowess or maybe even your references.
You might need to take some time and evaluate your job interviewing process – from everything to your preparation to following up. How much effort do you put into preparing for your job interviews? Do you do your research before the interview and review questions that you might be asked? Your interviewing skills are important, you have to make a good impression when you first meet the interviewer. You have to have a solid connection – with a strong handshake, solid eye contact, and an inviting smile.
One thing to do is bring in samples of your previous work. A portfolio, with supporting documentation, is an excellent way to sell yourself to an interviewer. Make sure to ask questions about the company and the position, you have to be interested in the position or it will show through to the interviewer. There is a lot of gray area when interviewing. You don’t want to overstep your bounds but you also want to show that you have a personality to match your resume. What about after the interview? Do you thank the interviewer or send out a thank you letter afterwards? Following up was once the key to landing a job – now there are many different factors at play.
There are companies that will call all of your references and there are some that will not think twice to hire your without references. If you think your references are holding you back from finding a job, then evaluate your references and see how you can beef them up. Make sure that you ask someone before you put them down as a reference, the last thing you want is having a supervisor from 3 years ago get a call about you and have no idea who you were. If you have references that are not related to the job you’re applying for, you need to update them to match your desired position. Many of these companies will not hire someone if they have old references or if their references don’t match the desired position. Having your McDonalds manager from college as a reference will probably not do much for you when you’re trying to get that CPA job.
Be smart about your references and only use the ones that will benefit you the most. Think about who’s on your references; would any of them have a difficult time explaining you or your past duties? Your references may be holding you back, so evaluate them and see if you can come up with references who will make you shine.

There has long been a debate regarding references and whether or not to include them in a resume. Many applicants are uncomfortable providing the information up front, preferring instead to simply state that references are available upon request.This is an outdated method and I always encourage clients NOT to write that on their resume, rather bring them with you to the interview. Whichever route you choose, it is critical you be aware of what information you are providing to potential employers as well as their ability to check that information. In other words, check your references because you never know who does.

References typically fall into two categories: personal and professional. Professional references are preferable as they give a potential employer the ability to confirm our work history. Personal references work well for those with little work history. The important thing to remember is that both types of references can be checked.
When offering references, be sure to carefully follow these three guidelines.

  1. Provide complete contact information: When providing a reference, be sure to provide complete contact information. This includes full names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses (when possible). Also include employment dates, job titles and supervisor names. Failure to provide complete information gives the appearance of attempting to avoid the references being creference information for people who do not know they are being included in a reference list. It not only puts them on the spot but failure to call and receive approval can mean providing bad contact information or worse…a bad reference.
  2. Know what they are going to say: When asking permission to include a former supervisor or co-worker on your reference list, take the opportunity to ask what they will say. While this may seem awkward, ensuring a positive review or reference is the best way to control this portion of the application process.
  3. Lastly, some states or companies place restrictions on what information a former employer can provide. In many cases, they are allowed to only confirm employment dates and salary history. It is always a better idea to use a reference that can provide applicable information about your work history and ethics. Be sure to confirm that your references can provide additional information to potential employers.

Some say that not everyone checks references, but I think today with such easy access via internet and reference checking companies, most do. The point is, you don’t know. Because of this, it is critical that all reference information be accurate and positive.
References can be an excellent way to personalize your work history. Carefully select the people you would like to use as references and confirm with them what they will say so you are aware of the information that potential employers receive. By properly preparing them, being honest in your answers and the information you present, you have a much better chance of presenting the best possible ‘face’ to potential employers.