This special moment in the job search eventually comes and a splendid moment it is. You have been through a round of interviews and those magical words are finally spoken, “We’d like to check your references.”
The days of reference letters have pretty much gone the way of Pac Man. Potential employers want to be able to speak to an ex employer or colleague to hear their voice and to ask them questions.
Who can be your reference? The best choice is of course your last direct report, your manager or supervisor. You may also use a colleague or in some instances a client, as long as the reference is able to validate what you have written on your resume.
Some do’s and don’ts for giving your references:
- Don’t list your references directly on your resume.
- Prepare a separate sheet of paper for your references.
- Do list at least 3 business and 1 character references depending on the level of the position applied for. More senior positions may require up to 5 business references.
- On the left side of the page list the references’ name, job title (now or when you worked for them), name of company they work for, phone number and email address.
- On the right side of that listing insert the reference’s relationship to you such as “Manager for 5 years”.
- Divide the page into Business references and list three of them, then Character references and list one or two.
- Do not offer your references in an interview, wait until you are asked for them.
- Have your reference page typed up and take it with you on all job interviews.
- Immediately after giving out your references call each one and tell them about the interview you just had. Don’t wait to call until you get home as the employer may start calling as soon as you leave their office.
- Ensure you know your references are able to take calls or if they are away maybe email is a better way to connect with them.
- Tell your references about the position you interviewed for and the company and most importantly the accomplishments that were discussed that your reference can validate.
- Give your reference tips of what not to mention that is irrelevant or inappropriate and what to focus on. Educate each reference on what the hiring manager found interesting and relevant.
- Discuss with each reference how you want them to answer the ‘weakness’ question.
The reference checker is listening for the tone of voice your references use. They are listening for authenticity in their answers. The checker will ask questions in different ways to elicit responses that validate truisms. Even overseas references are telephoned these days, so feel free to provide references from any country with appropriate dialing instructions.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to coach your references on the interview you are being referenced for and as soon as you exit the interview.
Hopefully your references will have glowing comments and you will be days away from a new beginning.
Author of: Networking How To Build Relationships That Count
and How to Get a Job and Keep It