Making the Most of Your Employer References
When searching for employment, you will find that most employers will at some point ask
you to provide a list of your references. This may seem like a simple request to fulfill,
but in actuality, choosing references is something that should be done with care. So
before you throw your own list out there to employers, let's take a look at some ideas to
keep in mind.
Why Provide References
Employers usually ask for references during the course of an application process for
two reasons: 1. they want to verify previous employment, and 2. they want to know what
they're getting themselves into. Most likely, they have determined that you're a great
candidate based on your resume, cover letter and interview, but it always helps to have
some additional sources step in to confirm your qualifications.
So when should you disclose your references? This can vary depending on who you're
applying for. Some may request a list of references in the job posting while others may
have you list three or four while filling out their application. A good rule of thumb,
however, is to hold on to your list until you're asked for it. Just be sure to choose
wisely the references you disclose, because while some employers may simply want to verify
your employment, others may go further to ask specifics about the type of employee you were.
Choosing Your References
One of the most important ideas to remember when choosing your references is making
sure they will say good things about you. If you're not sure what they might say, then you
can have a friend call on your behalf and get a reference, asking simple, professional
questions just to gauge the responses he or she might give.
Typically, the best people from which to request references include past or present
supervisors, co-workers, professors, customers, vendors, and even coaches and friends.
However, when the references are more of a personal nature and they were not specifically
requested, you may want to list them after the most highly-regarded professional
references. This is because, for the most part, the employee is more interested in your
work ethic than your personal behaviors. And with additional resources available like
social networking sites, many can do more "realistic" research without needing to gauge
your characteristics from a personal friend.
Asking for Permission
One of the biggest rules of thumb when selecting references is to make sure that you
ask their permission before submitting their names to employers. Failing to complete this
task can offer unfavorable results all the way around. Think about it, if you don't tell
your references you've offered their names, when the employer calls they may be thrown
completely off-guard, having to come up with specific details on the spur of the moment.
This could result in you not receiving the thorough recommendation you'd hoped for. So to
ensure that it goes your way, make sure ask your references if you can use them in this way.
Choosing the right references to offer to prospective employers can mean the difference
in you being hired for a position. So choose carefully, making sure each reference is
someone you have a good relationship with and who truly has your best interest at heart.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing
working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and
information. If you're in need of a
resume service, compare the top ones
in the industry at ResumeLines.com