Monday, November 19, 2012

Top Five Myths about References

Myths exist in nearly every aspect of the job search process, from creating a resume, writing a cover letter, or taking part in an interview. The same can be said about the process of choosing job references, or those who can speak about you as a professional. Read - and heed - the top five myths about references below. 

Anyone can be a reference: There are some job candidates who believe that anyone can be a reference: a friend, a neighbor, or a family member. What these candidates fail to realize is that the quality of the reference matters significantly. A reference should be able to speak directly to you as a professional, not in any other role. Ensure that the references you choose can do so.

A reference will always have positive things to say: Candidates may assume that anyone that they have worked with will give them a glowing reference. Not so. Simply working with someone doesn't mean that they will give you a positive reference. When you are reaching out to solicit references, ask that person if they can give you a positive reference. A response of 'no' doesn't necessarily mean that you were a poor worker (though it could be educational for you to find out why they cannot). Ensure that your references will be able to support your candidacy.

You should only have three references: The standard is to provide three references to speak to your work habits and ability to perform in a potential position. However, consider providing a fourth or a fifth unless specifically asked not to. Providing more than three shows confidence that you have more than three people who can speak highly about you. It also will give the potential employer options for who they want to contact.

You can't direct your references: When you contact someone to be your reference, be sure to send her a copy of the position description and to remind her of certain projects or work that you did together that will reflect positively on your candidacy. Such pre-preparation will give your references something of substance to discuss, making them more comfortable and more effective for you when contacted by a potential employer.

You don't need to tell your reference they are being references: Nothing frustrates a reference more than not being forewarned that they will be contacted by a potential employer. Everyone who you give as a reference should know beforehand that they could potentially be contacted. If you do not direct your references as to what you want them to say about you, they should - at the very least - know that they could be contacted so they are not taken by surprise.

What myths about references have you uncovered? Comment about them below!

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