Six Steps to a Well-Rounded References Strategy
There are books abound on how to prepare a "knock 'em dead" resume or how to interview with finesse. You are not likely, however, to find a book on creating a strategy around references at your local book retailer. A strong candidate knows the power of a solid reference and will create a strategy to make the most of these relationships. Follow the steps below to create on for yourself:
1. Choose the right references: Optimal references are people who have direct experience working with you. They can speak to your work habits, interpersonal skills, accomplishments, and team-orientation. Supervisors are ideal, as are coworkers with which you have had direct contact. The longer you have performed work for or with these individuals the better.
2. Get permission: Contact all of your references to obtain permission for you to use them as references. Briefly update them on the jobs for which you are applying.
3. Create a bank of references: Most applicants stop after obtaining three references; do not do this. Instead, obtain a "bank" of references: around six to ten people. Creating a bank will help you with the following step.
4. Match your references to the position: When you are applying for positions, scrutinize the position descriptions to determine what knowledge, skills, and abilities the organization is looking for. Based upon this information, choose references that can best speak to your qualifications for the position. For example, if the position seems more technology heavy, be sure to include a reference that has worked with you on a technology-oriented project.
5. Prep your references: If you are contacted for an interview, contact all of the references that you listed for that position to notify them that they may be contacted. Send them the name of the company as well as a copy of the position description so they know for what you are applying and answer any questions that they may have.
6. Send thank you notes: The graciousness of your references should be paid back. Send them a thank you note for agreeing to be a reference and for helping you further your career.