Need a Reference? Your Guide to Choosing the Best Ones

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Once you make it through the interview process, you need to be ready to provide a list of references. But whom should you ask and how can you best prepare them? Here’s everything you need to know about choosing references and increasing your chances of getting the job.

Start thinking of references right off the bat.

Wherever you are in the job search process, whether just starting to hunt or juggling multiple interviews, it’s important to create a shortlist of reference in your mind. While you might not provide the same ones for every potential employer, there are likely a few top people who would serve as a strong reference for you. Reach out to each reference now to ask for their permission, so when the time comes, you’re ready to submit them.

Be strategic about the references you give.

When you’re asked to submit references to a particular hiring manager, think about what skills and abilities are going to be most important to them. Then provide the references who are most relevant. For instance, if strategizing is an important part of the job, then your current or past boss is the best source. If, however, cooperation and teamwork are critical, then opt for a peer or colleague instead.

Prepare your references ahead of time.

Before you give names and contact information to a hiring manager, make sure you touch base with each reference first. Send them a copy of the job posting and then have a quick conversation with them about why you think you’re a good fit for the role. Remind them of past accomplishments or projects you worked on together that would be important to discuss.

Also, if there’s any common ground between the reference and the hiring manager, like an alma mater or mutual connection, let them both know. Providing this kind of information can be a crucial ice breaker and lead to a more positive, productive conversation.

Know how to deal with the negative.

If a hiring manager wants to speak with a past boss, one you had a poor relationship with, make sure you frame the situation correctly. Let the hiring manager know ahead of time you’re likely going to get a negative review and explain why. Also, make sure you offer up other references to connect to within the same organization who can serve as a more objective source of your performance.

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At ResumeSpice, our professional resume writers can help polish your existing resume or create one from scratch, so you can get your foot in the door faster with employers. We offer services for candidates from entry-level to executive. If you’re ready to learn more, call 832.930.7378 or contact us online.