Do References Tip the Scale in Hiring?

When considering adding references to your resume, you need to ask yourself a question: Do my references maximize my chances of getting hired?  If your answer is no, then you need to take a good look at who you’re putting down on paper!

Think “Who” before you add a reference.

  • Who wants to see you succeed as much as you do?
  • Who can clearly articulate your strengths, areas of expertise and development?
  • Who can think on their feet if asked a tough question?

We all feel that we know at least three or four people who fit the bill, but when it comes to a prospective employer and providing them with useful information, you really need to consider the referrer’s position and their ability to provide pertinent information.

For the most part, companies are really looking for professional references.  Why?  They want to hear from people you have worked for so they can better understand your skills and accomplishments.  In some cases, they will ask for personal or character references so you should have these readily available.

The one thing you want to avoid is the person who can only answer questions with one or two words and provides no details i.e. “Was (name) promoted while with your company?” – “Yes he was.”

It is also wise to avoid people that you worked with over five years ago because they are not up-to-date with your career changes.  Likewise, it is also important to avoid employers whom you did not have a good working relationship.

One mistake we often see is the “secret” job search that backfires when the potential employer contacts someone from their current workplace.  To make sure your job search is kept confidential, always choose the person who can be trusted.

Another big mistake is catching a reference off guard because you didn’t contact them before listing them on your resume.  Always ASK before you list them:

  • It makes you look professional and courteous
  • They have time to prepare
  • It gives you an opportunity to see if they are hesitant in providing a good reference

Keep in mind that just because someone agrees to give you a reference, it doesn’t mean that it will be a good one!  Your former employer or team leader just might have a different impression of your work skills, so instead of assuming it is always a good idea to talk to them ahead of time to ask what they plan to share.

By briefing your references on who will be contacting them,  your background and what you’re goals are for your career, you provide them with the ability to give you a great referral.  You can even give them a copy of your current resume or have them view your “updated” LinkedIn Profile.

Make sure to include contact information for your references.  What should you include?

1. Person’s name

2. Job title

3. Relationship to you (such as personal, co-worker or direct supervisor)

4. Company name

5. Address

6. Contact info (phone number, email address)

There is nothing more frustrating for a potential employer than unreliable contact information so check back with your references to make sure their contact information hasn’t changed before you send them your references.

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