If you’re on the job hunt, now is the time to create a list of people who can vouch for your awesomeness. Reference checks are now standard practice by most employers.
Here are a few tips to follow before, during, and after asking someone to be your reference:
Before You Ask
- Make a list of candidates. Include people who fall into the following categories: work, character, and volunteer. Most employers want work-related references, but you can include other types if they are not specified. Make sure that everyone on your list knows you well and has recent experience with you (i.e., do not ask a professor who you have not spoken to in 6 years).
- Determine who on your list is the best fit. Some of your references may have more knowledge about the skills you would like to highlight than others. Ask yourself who would best represent you for this particular job. Think like an employer!
When You Ask
- Be professional. Whether you are asking in person or by email, keep your conversation succinct and upbeat. Simply mention that you are searching for a new job and would appreciate it if they would be a reference for you. Include the name of the company and the job title.
- Share why you chose this particular person as a reference. Flattery can take you far! Mention how much you’ve learned from this person and why they would make a great reference for you.
- Be proactive. Make sure that your reference knows when to expect the call and, if possible, who will be calling. Many people do not answer calls from phone numbers they don’t recognize; however, if they are waiting for reference check on a particular day, they will be more apt to answer.
- If a written recommendation is needed, be thorough. In addition to the job details, include complete contact information and the deadline. If the letter must be mailed, provide an addressed and stamped envelope.
- Be gracious. No matter the response, be polite. If your reference declines, be understanding and move forward.
After You Ask
- Say thank you. Follow-up with a word of thanks or send a written thank you note.
- Let your references know the outcome. If you didn’t receive the job, still take time to reconnect. It’s the polite thing to do, plus your reference may be able to help your job search!
- Prepare to ask again. If you want to use the same reference for another opportunity down the line, know that you’ll need to ask for permission once again. Just because someone said yes once, doesn’t mean that they are forever on your reference list. Never list a reference’s name on your job application without asking first.
Questions? Contact us for more information about references. Or, if you’re looking for a job, we can also connect you to some great companies in your area! Let’s talk!
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