Friday, August 21, 2009

Use References That Can Help You Land a Job

An impressive resume can help get you in the door, the interviews allow you to demonstrate you’re a strong candidate for the job, but it may be the professional and personal references that become the last building block the recruiter or hiring manager needs in making you a formal offer. With this being the case, you need to put careful thought and effort into how you approach and acquire references. Below are some things to consider:

Gather and organize your references now before a potential employer requests them. Keep them separate from your resume—freeing up space on your resume for more details regarding work experience, education, etc. For a professional package, use the same business stationary for your reference list, resume and cover letter.

Ask references for permission—don’t assume they are comfortable acting as a reference. Talk to them in advance about what they would say about your expertise, skills, strengths, etc.

Seek out references from former managers, colleagues, internal or external customers, and business partners who can speak in-depth about your qualifications, talents, work ethic and attitude. Think about aligning references to the kind of company and position you’re pursuing; for example a reference from a past manager in the automotive industry is ideal if the job opportunity is with an automotive supplier.

Prepare references for prospective employer calls—provide them with insight on the type of company and position you’re pursuing to allow them to tailor their input.

Obtain and keep references that represent every key company you’ve worked for (and potentially major roles)—keep in mind it is easier to get these references before you leave a company versus having to backtrack to get them.

Keep updated contact information on your references and be confident they are accessible. A reference that a prospective employer can’t get a hold of either because their contact information is out-of-date or because they are lax about returning calls will do you no good.

Inform references about your job-search status including when you’ve landed a new job. Be sure to send your references a note thanking them for their support whether you get a new job or not.

Foster long-term relationships with your references. These people play an important role in your professional journey, and are likely important to you on a personal level as well.

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