Would you be excited to eat at a restaurant that has a mediocre review? An unenthusiastic reference may hurt more than help, so choose your references carefully and make sure they are prepared. With just a little extra planning, you can guarantee your references help you win the job.
Follow these steps to prepare for a reference check:
1. Make your list- Ideally, you will want to use your most recent supervisor as a reference. Former clients, employees you have supervised and co-workers are acceptable as well. If you are an entry-level candidate with little experience, list a mentor such as a professor or family friend. All of these types of references can provide valid insight into your character and abilities as a future employee.
2. Get their permission- Never submit your references before getting their permission first. Describe the type of job that you are looking for and request that they be a reference. If you sense hesitation, consider asking someone else. Having a great reference requires the individual to be prepared to vouch for you with enthusiasm.
3. Make sure they are prepared- Employers are looking to confirm your job title, dates of employment, and your main accomplishments on the job. Make sure you supply your reference with an up-to date resume that outlines this information, giving them the accurate details that the hiring manager is looking to confirm. You may also want to ask them how and when they prefer to be contacted so that they are easily reached.
4. Make it easy for them- No one likes to be caught off guard, so let them know in advance when you expect that they will be called. If it’s been some time since you worked together, provide a few suggested highlights for them to cover. This “cheat sheet” can include a list of bullet points summarizing the employment dates, your job title, and the key accomplishments they should emphasize. For example, if leadership is an import aspect of the position, emphasize a time when you showed strong guidance and excelled as a mentor to lead your team to success.
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