A Guide to Selecting Your Job References

One step in the interview process could make or break your future with a potential employer.

Whether you’re certain the names on your reference list will sing your praises or you’ve listed a few past employers in hopes they’ll remember who you are, it’s important to carefully select your job references.

Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing the right people. Nearly 70 percent of employers changed their minds about employees after speaking to references.

Check out this guide for selecting references for your next job application:

1. Don’t have a cookie-cutter list

If you have a specific list of references you hand out to every future employer, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Unless you have limited experience or a short list of skills, your list of references should be tailored to each specific position you’re applying for. Choose people that know you best and have the ability to sing your job-relevant praises. You may have had an excellent supervisor in a past job, but if that person didn’t know you well or your duties were vastly different than what you’re applying for, perhaps a different person would be more fitting.

2. Ask appropriately

After you’ve decided which people to list as references, asking them for their permission is important for ensuring their willingness to help you out. Your references shouldn’t be surprised when they get a phone call asking about your past performance. Their permission is doubly important for listing their information.

It’s important to properly reach out to references, too. While it’s not always possible to meet up in person, try to be as connected as possible, such as with a phone call versus an email. After all, these people are going to be recommending you, and this is your chance to talk to them beforehand. Unless you absolutely have to ask over email, ask them in person or on the phone.

3. Make sure you have updated contact information

Are you sure your old professor’s phone number hasn’t changed? After you’ve finalized your list and your references have accepted, collect their updated contact information. Beyond a phone number, many employers appreciate — or even expect — additional information such as an email address, current job title and a description of your working relationship to the reference.

4. Send them your resume

Your references likely have a good idea of your work ethic and accomplishments, but they’re limited to what they saw. Send them a copy of your resume so they’re up to date on what you’ve been up to and your professional endeavors. That way, they’ll have a better understanding of why you feel qualified for the new job. Then, your reference can have a more compelling, persuasive conversation with your potential future employer.

Do you have a list of references but you’re still looking for a job? Celarity can help! We’ve been placing individuals in the Twin Cities area since 1993. We specialize in the intersection of marketing, IT, and creative jobs. Contact us today to learn more or view our current job openings.

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