April 26, 2022 |
There are numerous factors that hiring managers consider when making a job offer. While most focus on the candidate’s qualifications and experience, hiring managers will also give weight to the reference list. A reference is a person who can attest to your character or professional competence.
Most employers will contact at least one of your references before making a job offer, so it’s vital to choose your references carefully.
A reference provides a third-party endorsement of your skills and qualifications. While your resume and cover letter give an overview of your experience and skills, a reference can attest to your work ethic, character, and other qualities that are difficult to quantify.
The primary two reasons why hiring managers contact a reference is to:
There are different types of references you can use, but not all of them are equal. The best reference you can provide is someone who can speak to both your professional competence and character.
The following are some examples of the best references you can use:
A work reference is someone you’ve worked with in the past who can attest to your job performance. These references have first-hand experience working with you in a professional environment. A work reference may include:
There are other options as well, even if you’re applying for your first job. For instance, if you volunteered at a charitable organization, you could request a reference from the organizer or someone you worked with.
If you’re fresh out of college, then you may not have a lot of professional relationships yet. Fortunately, academic references can be just as impactful as work references. The following are some of the academic references you could potentially utilize:
A character reference is someone who can attest to your personal character, rather than your professional skills. While work references are usually the most impactful, a character reference can be helpful in some situations.
If you’re applying for a job that relies heavily on teamwork, a character reference can attest to your ability to work well with others. Almost anyone from your work or academic environment can provide a character reference.
LinkedIn recommendations are similar to reference letters, in that they’re written by people who know you and can attest to your skills. The main difference is that LinkedIn recommendations are public, while reference letters are usually private.
LinkedIn recommendations can be a great way to advertise your skills to potential employers. If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure to ask for recommendations from people who can attest to your work ethic and abilities. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to perform a basic online background check.
There are a lot of different people that you can turn to for a reference. However, there are a few people who shouldn’t be your reference, for one reason or another. Choosing the wrong reference could be detrimental to your chances of getting the job.
With that in mind, the following are examples of people you shouldn’t use as references:
Generally speaking, a family member or friend won’t be a good choice for a reference, unless they worked or volunteered with you directly. Friends and family can be biased, so hiring managers can’t necessarily rely on them to tell the truth about you.
Moreover, they are unlikely to be able to give a hiring manager insight into your work ethic and skills.
It probably goes without saying, but you shouldn’t use anyone who was forced to fire you. The fact that they fired you will surely come up, and you don’t want the hiring manager to have any doubts about your ability to do the job.
Even if you did a great job, don’t use a manager or a coworker as a reference if your working relationship was not good. If you do, you’re taking a risk that they will speak poorly of you, even if you did your job well and treated everyone with respect.
Don’t just list people as references without speaking to them first. The last thing you want is for someone to receive a call about you that they didn’t expect. If your reference is not prepared, they may struggle to answer any questions, which will reflect poorly on you.
If you don’t have a relationship with the person you’re listing as a reference, don’t list them. For example, if you’re listing a manager you worked for more than a decade ago who barely remembers you, it’s not going to be a strong reference.
If the hiring manager gets into contact with them and they say as much, the hiring manager will either think you lied about the job or that the work you did was average at best.
When it comes to putting together references, remember that you don’t have to use the same three references for every job you apply for. In fact, doing so is generally not a good idea. You should tailor your references to each job.
For example, if you’re applying for a leadership position, you’ll want a reference that can attest to your leadership skills. A client that you worked for as a freelancer won’t be able to do this.
Keeping that in mind, the following are a few tips on how to find the references you need:
Once you’ve created a list of people you think will provide good references, you’ll want to contact them so that you can ask them to be a reference. After all, you won’t want to add names and contact information to your resume without permission.
First of all, make sure you contact potential references well ahead of time. You need to give them some time to consider whether they want to provide a reference (or to determine if they even have the time to do so). Don’t call someone the day before you plan on submitting a resume to ask for a written reference.
A potential reference may not always have the time to help you. It’s important to always be polite and thank them, even if they turn you down. This way, the relationship is protected and you can always try again in the future if you need.
If a person agrees to provide a reference, offer details about what the hiring manager may ask. If you can, also let them know when they can expect to hear from a hiring manager. Finally, if they did provide a reference, follow up with them to offer your thanks. Be sure to inform them if you got the job as well.
When it comes to putting together references for a job, it’s critical to choose wisely. After all, your references can make or break your chances of getting a job. As such, make sure you choose references that can best vouch for the skills and attributes required for the job you’re applying for. Doing so will help to improve your odds of securing a job offer.
Learn how to use your references wisely when looking for a job.
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