Your resume and cover letter are polished up and ready to go, but what about your list of professional references? This is a key support document which you should have ready in cased it’s requested at some point during the hiring process. It should complement your resume and list relevant people who have agreed to speak with prospective employers on your behalf.
Create a References Pool
It’s better to have more references than an employer may ask for. Generally, three or four is a good number for typical job seekers. If you’re vying for a more senior position, it may be wise to have five to seven names in your reference bank.
- List your strongest references first. Like your resume and cover letter, you may want to customize your list based on the specific position for which you are applying. Strategically choose the best people to represent what you want highlighted for a particular career opportunity.
- Submit references only when requested. Carry copies of your list in your portfolio and bring them with you to your interviews.
How to Choose References
When it comes to choosing career references, you get what you put into it. Each person on your list should know you well and be able to clearly articulate your best qualities.
- Supervisors and coworkers are not necessarily an option. Many companies have policies that forbid them from sharing information or discussing your performance. Choose other individuals with whom you’ve worked closely, such as clients, vendors, suppliers and community leaders.
- If the position is inside your company, you may be able to get a reference from a former colleague, member of another department, or someone in an area or location removed from your day-to-day operations. For example, a task member from another division might be a strong person to discuss your initiative, teamwork, follow-through and creativity. Supervisors or peers who have left the organization can be excellent references and are not under any obligation to tow the company line.
- Opt for professional versus personal references. If you use friends or family members, the perception will likely be that they’re biased. Have an objective outsider or your recruiter review your selections.
Keep in touch with your references. If you haven’t spoken with them in a while, you can’t expect to get a glowing review. Build these relationships just as you would any others that are important to you and your future.
- Ask their permission before adding their names to your reference list. Respect their privacy by asking if there’s any information they do not want included.
- Inform them when you think they may be contacted. This way, you ensure that they take the call. In addition, it helps them to prepare for the upcoming conversation.
- Keep them in the loop. Give them updated copies of your resume and relevant job postings. Keep them apprised of any specific skills you think make you a good fit for a position or traits you’d like them to mention to potential employers.
- Express your gratitude. Each time a reference supports you, send a thank-you note. Even better, add a gift card or take them to lunch.
With the right references in your corner, you’re well on your way to winning the fight for the job of your dreams. To learn more about crafting your successful career path – as well as current opportunities in your field – read our related posts or contact the team at PrideStaff Fresno today.