Remember Me? Tips on Asking For and Getting Knock 'Em Dead References
Stay in touch with your best references.
At some point during your job search, a potential employer will request references. Typically, it will be when the company is seriously interested in you as a potential hire. It's important to be prepared to provide a list of employment references who can attest to the skills and qualifications that you have for the job you are applying for.
Plan ahead and get your references in order, before you need them. It will save time scrambling to put together a list at the last minute. Keep in mind that good references can help you clinch a job offer, so be sure to have a strong list of references who are willing to attest to your capabilities.
A prospective employer should ask your permission before contacting your references. This is especially important if you are employed – you don't want to surprise your current employer with a phone call checking your references. It's perfectly acceptable to say that you are not comfortable with your current employer being contacted at the present time. However, do have a list of alternative references available.
Who to Ask for a Reference
Former bosses, co-workers, customers, vendors, and colleagues all make good references. Employers will typically be very interested in your last one or two direct managers. So even if you had a an unpleasant or terrible relationship with a past supervisor, it's still important to call and let them know an employer may contact them.
Request a Reference Letter
Every time you change employment, make a point of asking for a reference letter from your supervisor or a co-worker. That way, you can create a file of recommendations from people you may not necessarily be able to track down years later.
What To Tell Your References You Plan on Using
Let your references know about the job for which you are interviewing. During your conversation be sure to bring up past accomplishments and successful projects you worked on. Be sure to give potential references some tips on the kinds of statements to make on your behalf. For example, say, "Any statements you can give on my performance or work habits will be appreciated. I'm under intense competition, and your reference could tip the scales in my favor."
How to Handle Something Negative in Your Employment History
Contact your former manager to clear the air. Tell her you're looking for a job, and that while things didn't work out for you in the last position, you would appreciate it if she mentions some of the positive contributions you made to the company.
Understanding Reference Policies
Be aware that some employers will not provide references. In general, HR may only be allowed to provide job title, dates of employment, and salary history. If that's the case, be creative and try to find alternative references that are willing to speak to your qualifications, such as names of clients, customers or co-workers who are familiar with your work.
Keep Your References Up-to-Date
Let your references know where your job search stands. Tell them who might be calling for a reference. When you get a new job, don't forget to send a thank you note to those who provided you with a reference.
Maintain your Network
Maintaining your reference network with periodic phone calls or notes to get and give updates is important. Have an active network in place because you never know when you might need it.