Good Job References is Critical to Getting Hired
Tips on approaching a
former employer to serve as a reference when applying for a job.
When you're trying to land a new job, you'll probably
need to give references: names of former employers who are willing to
talk to prospective employers about you. If you really want that new
job, you'll have to make sure that your references will be willing to
say something positive about your work -- and won't just limit their
comments to your name, rank, and serial number.
A positive CheckMyReference.com reference report
can help set you apart from other candidates. Take your positive
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Unfortunately, many employers these days are understandably wary of
giving out information about current or former employees. Even employers
who want to help out are often fearful that they will be sued by an
employee if they say something unflattering. For this reason, many
employers have adopted an official policy of giving out only the most
basic information about all employees and former employees, usually
limited to job title, dates of employment, and final salary, even for
their most stellar former employees.
Because solid references often mean the difference between a job offer
and a rejection letter, it's important to line up references who will
help you seal the deal. This means choosing the right people to serve as
references, making sure they have positive things to say about your
work, and making it easy for prospective employers to find them.
Make a List of Reference Prospects
Start by putting together a list of people who
might be good references. Choose only those people who have had a
chance to observe your work first-hand, such as former supervisors
or managers. A reference from someone who hardly knows you is
unlikely to impress a prospective employer. Similarly, you should
select people who have been responsible for overseeing your work --
in other words, those who are above you on the corporate ladder, not
your coworkers and associates. Even the most glowing recommendation
from a coworker won't carry as much weight with a prospective
employer as a few kind words from a supervisor.
As you compile your list, consider the qualities
your prospective employer will be looking for. Who can best speak to
those qualities? Once you consider the career path you're trying to
follow, you'll probably see that certain references will be in a
better position to help you than others.
Contact Potential References
Once you have list of prospects, call each one and
ask to meet with them briefly. You have two goals at this meeting:
to find out whether you should use that person as a reference and,
if so, to provide the information your reference will need to give a
strong recommendation. At the meeting, explain your career goals,
what type of jobs you are applying for, and why you believe you are
a good candidate for those jobs. Ask whether your prospect would be
willing to serve as a reference. And be sure to bring along a copy
of your resume and any important documents that might help trigger
your prospect's memory about the good work you did -- for example, a
report you wrote for an important client or an award for outstanding
performance. Try to find out what your prospect would say about
various aspects of your job performance. It's probably easiest to
ask about this directly, as long as you think you will receive an
honest answer. If you're concerned that your prospect might have
criticisms of your work, let him or her know that you believe your
references will be a crucial part of getting a job, and that you
will need strong support. This should encourage your prospect to be
up front with you about what type of reference he or she is willing
to provide. As you evaluate this information, remember that a
quality that works against you in one job might work for you in
another. For example, if a former supervisor plans to say that you
were excellent in coming up with large concepts and creative ideas,
but sometimes fell short in handling detail work, that might be a
good reference for a job coming up with themes for advertising
campaigns -- but a poor one for a job writing and editing copy on
those same advertisements.
Providing References to
Once you find several people who are willing and
able to provide you with a good reference, treat them like the
valuable asset they are: Give out their names and numbers sparingly.
Prepare a list for prospective employers that includes your
references' names, job titles, and contact information, but don't
simply staple it to your resume and submit it to every job opening
in town. Instead, let prospective employers know that you can
provide references (often done by stating "References available upon
request" at the bottom of a resume), and then make your references'
names and contact information available only if asked. This will
save your references from having to answer phone calls and email
requests for information from employers who aren't seriously
considering your application. Stay in touch with your references.
Update them about your achievements and goals, make sure you have
current contact information, and ask them to let you know if someone
contacts them for information about you. Make sure to let your
references know when you land a job -- and thank them for their
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