One detail you should NEVER overlook in your job search is preparing and managing your contacts for professional reference checks in the later stages of the job interview process.
Here’s how to ensure a smooth interaction and great conversation between your prospective employer and your professional references who can speak to your strengths and build credibility.
First, Lose “References Available on Request”
Lose the sentence, “References available upon request” on your resume. This is a dated practice, so use that real estate on your resume for other more important information. If the employer is interested in talking with you, they will ask you for your references.
Take Time to Call and Ask Permission
Don’t wait until you’re in the final interview stages to reach out. When you’re in active job search mode, or just beginning to talk with a company, call your references and ask their permission to use their name to speak on your behalf.
Make sure you’re on the same page and that they don’t have reservations about providing a reference before you start circulating their name. Note their current contact information so that you don’t provide any older, dated email addresses or phone numbers.
Create a Professional Reference Sheet
The next thing is to create a professional reference sheet. This should complement your resume using the same font and formatting. Include the contact name, their title, and their relationship to you when you worked with them.
Professional references might include your boss, peer, vendor or customer. Professional references can come in all forms, and often the employer will direct you to provide the names of a cross section of people.
Finally, include a brief sentence that says what this person can speak to about you. Depending on your relationship and work context, they may not be able to speak to certain aspects of your background. This way, the potential employer can preview what they know and you can help guide the conversation.
Wait to Give Names Until You’re Asked
Don’t volunteer the names of your references until you’re asked.
First, you don’t want your professional references to be called as part of a screening process. Save them for when you’re a serious contender or a finalist candidate. That way, you don’t fatigue your contacts until it’s real.
When you are a candidate for a specific position, reconnect to let them know about the role, company, and person who will be calling. Give them any details about the most important aspects of the job so they’re as prepared as possible. This will help your reference have a more productive conversation.
“I want to let you know I’m a finalist candidate being considered for senior operations manager at Antelope Industries. My prospective boss, April May, is the chief operations officer and will be calling you to learn more about me. I know she’ll be particularly interested in my team management background, cost-savings initiatives, and, since they’re looking for someone to lead a move into a new facility, she’ll be interested in the time I helped move our operation to a larger warehouse.”
Don’t Leave Them Hanging!
Once you do get the position, be sure to contact them and let them know that you landed. Thank them for their role in supporting you to secure this next great job in your career. And then stay in touch to always be practicing nurturing your network!
I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview and career marketing coach dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job!
Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.