What you need to know about getting references
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING REFERENCES
References can make or break whether you land that dream job you’ve just interviewed for. According to the website Interviewsuccessformula.com, approximately two-thirds of employers change their minds about hiring a candidate based on the input they receive from a reference.
One of the most important questions asked of a reference is: Would you rehire this candidate? If you’ve chosen the wrong reference, the response to that question may negatively affect your candidacy. Understanding what types of references are acceptable is key to advancing your career in any field or industry.
WHAT DOES A GOOD REFERENCE LOOK LIKE?
A good reference is someone who has had a chance to work with you in situations relevant to the positions you’re interested in. They should know you well (we would suggest for at least a year), must be in a position where they can comfortably and accurately evaluate you and should be willing to give honest answers despite their relationship with you. The best references are managers and/or direct supervisors who have been in the position of evaluating your performance and work ethic.
WHAT DOES A BAD REFERENCE LOOK LIKE?
Here is an example of bad references:
- A personal friend wants to do you a favor and vouch for your work experience. Employers and recruiters are looking for professional references who can directly speak about their experience working with you and your work product. Avoid using friends from college or professors; save them for character references if requested.
- A former colleague or manager who doesn’t seem comfortable giving you a good recommendation. As ‘crazy’ as this may sound to you, not every boss will have nice things to say about you. Weed out those individuals before submitting them. Occasionally these people will politely decline to offer a recommendation. If that happens, don’t ask twice and don’t take it personally! You very well may have ‘killed it’ when working for them but, regardless of their reasons, some people just don’t like giving references for anyone and it’s better not to push them to do so.
GOOD ETIQUETTE FOR OBTAINING A REFERENCE:
- Start by asking your reference if they’d be comfortable giving you a good recommendation.
- Then ask your reference for permission to use them as a reference beforehand.
- Confirm your reference’s contact information and their preferred method of contact (email or phone, work or personal).
- Make sure your references will be available to provide a reference in a timely fashion.
Finally, if the reference is someone you know well and trust (and they definitely should be) talk to them about the position you’re hoping to get. The more they know about this potential job/employer and understand what it means to you personally and professionally, the better equipped they will be to speak on your behalf.