The Do’s and Don’ts of Selecting Job References

The Do’s and Don’ts of Selecting Job References

Choosing work references is difficult, and unfortunately a lot of jobseekers get it wrong. Your references should be working for you, not against you. But according to a CareerBuilder survey, almost half of employers have a less favorable opinion of a candidate after speaking to their references.

So, what’s the secret? How do you narrow down and select references that will vouch for your work ethic and experience? Start by thinking strategically about your work history and identifying what you want a potential employer to know about you as a qualified professional. Once you’ve figured that out, you can more effectively evaluate your contacts and choose references that will put you in the best light and help you land the job. Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you being this process.

Don’t list someone unless you’re on good terms

Always choose references that will provide positive recommendations. The best way to know whether or not someone is prepared to do that is to ask! Call, email, or talk to the individuals face-to-face and ask if they are comfortable with making a positive or enthusiastic recommendation based on their exposure to your work. You may even ask your references for written recommendations so that you have a clear idea of how well they understand your background and experience.

Don’t limit yourself to only managers/supervisors

While you should avoid listing family members and friends as references – especially if they haven’t had any exposure to you in a work-related setting – it’s okay to list people other than managers and supervisors. Consider coworkers that you had a good relationship with or business contacts, clients, and vendors that you’ve worked with in the past.

Do pick and choose based on the job

Most employers won’t ask for more than two or three references, but plan to have a pool of contacts to choose from. This allows you to evaluate the requirements of the position you’re applying for and choose which of your references can best speak to your skills in those areas.

Don’t forget to utilize your in-house connections

Here in Hawaii, the people you know can play a big part in the success of your job search. That said, be sure to research the company you’re applying for to find out if you have any connections, and if so, consider asking if that person would be willing to vouch for you as a reference.

Perfecting your resume, writing cover letters, and preparing for interviews can keep you so busy that it’s easy to let selecting references fall by the wayside. However, by taking the time to compile a solid list of references, you’ll give yourself an even better chance of landing the job you really want.


Posted on January 15, 2017

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