4 Tips to Line Up Your References

John Krautzel
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References are still a major part of the hiring process, even if you have dynamite skills, a winning personality and the experience to back up your qualifications. Your references vouch for your work ethic, personality, job performance and accomplishments. Take a look at four tips when it comes to asking people to vouch for your skills ahead of a job interview.

1. Talk to Previous Supervisors and Mentors

It's best to seek references from direct supervisors who hired you and worked with you on a regular basis. Consider how long you worked with the person before asking them for a reference letter. The longer someone works with you, the more they understand your personality and skill level. Your references should also include mentors with whom you interact with regularly, as they're also likely to understand your work ethic and passion.

Make sure your references have the ability to vouch for your current skills and abilities. Current or recent employers and mentors have a better idea of what you can do now versus what you were able to do when you first started your career.

2. Ask Permission First

Always ask permission to include an individual as one of your references before you list them. Getting permission is important, especially if you're giving out someone's personal email or phone numbers that the public may not know. Getting permission also prevents surprises, and your former supervisors can prepare in advance for the phone call or email.

3. Explain What May Happen

Tell your professional references what you expect to happen. Your references might need to set aside a few minutes to talk on the phone, or he may have to write a letter of recommendation. Clue your people in as to the position you're applying for, your current responsibilities, the name of the company, the name of the person who should be contacting them and what the person may ask about you.

4. Discuss Relevant Background Information

Talk about the job and its basic duties, that way, each reference can formulate what he wants to say. Perhaps you can request for your references to mention particular attribute. For example, one previous supervisor can discuss your leadership abilities in a managerial role, while another might talk about your customer service aptitude. It's also a good idea to remind previous supervisors about your accomplishments so they can verify that you did, in fact, achieve what you said you did. Always thank each reference with a quick email or even a handwritten note, since they're taking time out of their schedules to do you a favor.

These four tips for gathering references help to ensure that you and your references are on the same page. What are your strategies for asking for professional references?

Photo courtesy of nds88 at Flickr.com


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