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How to Select Your References

August 16th, 2013

Your references are a key part of your job search.  As a result, it’s important to choose them with care.  Connecting your best references with potential employers improves the impression you make on a hiring manager and boosts your credibility.  Your references’ opinions about you and your work may be the deciding factor in whether or not you receive a job offer, so knowing how to select the best references is key.

How should you select your references?  Surprisingly, choosing the three people most likely to describe you admiringly isn’t always the best option.  Your references should be able to discuss your professional performance, and they should have the credentials to make them believable witnesses to your work.

When selecting your references, consider the following tips:

  • Choose a well-rounded reference.  References should be more than people who merely praise your work – although they should have a good opinion of it.  A solid reference is someone with whom you’ve worked, who understands why you left the company, and who can give concrete examples of your professional skills, your leadership, your job performance, and your character.
  • Consider multiple perspectives.  You may have three co-workers who can all say stellar things about your work – but hearing from your co-workers three times doesn’t give a hiring manager a fully-rounded picture of who you are and what you can do.  Instead, consider choosing one co-worker as a reference, one supervisor, and one third person – perhaps a vendor, a customer, or someone with whom you have volunteered.
  • Prepare your references.  Once you’ve chosen your “top three” references, ask them if they’re willing and able to be your references before including them on a list you give to hiring managers.  Specify that they’re serving as a verbal reference, rather than writing a letter of recommendation, and check that your contact information for them is correct.  Finally, make sure they’ll be able to talk about your work, as some organizations have policies preventing employees from commenting on a former employee’s performance.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our experienced recruiters will help you choose the best references available and prepare for interviews, whether you are seeking the next step on your career path or a new career. Contact us today to learn more!

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