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10 Ways To Get Your References To Rave About You

This is a guest blog post by Leslie Ayres about getting positive work references.

positive work references, job references, reference check 

You aced the interview, and you know the company likes you because they just asked for your employment references.

Great job! All signs point to a job offer ahead.

When a company wants references, it means they’re seriously considering hiring you. You’re almost there.

Even if they say it’s just a formality, it’s important. You want the reference calls to go well so that your new employer will feel confident hiring you so you start of on a great note. And if the call goes wrong, everything could all fall apart. As a recruiter, I’ve seen it happen.

That’s why it’s important do some  planning so your references say all the right things about you.

Here’s how to do that:

1. Update your positive work references when you start your search.

Don’t wait until the last minute. Do it now. You need at least four or five people who have worked with you and who are willing and who are allowed to talk about your work (some companies don’t let employees give references).

Contact each person to ask permission to use them as a reference in this job search, and to make sure you have their current phone number and email address.

2. Choose people who are on your side.

Positive work references from an upbeat coworker who will talk about how great you are at your job will carry more emotional weight and be more impressive than a terse comment from a VP who never really saw you in action. Someone you’ve worked with or for more than once is always a good choice.

3. Include bosses, peers and people who reported to you.

Give a multidimensional view of your work by offering references who worked with you in different ways. Sometimes even customers and vendors can be some of your most effective references.

4. Create a separate reference document.

Enhance your personal branding with an attractive list created in the same style, and with the same header, as your resume. Never include references in your resume (unless it’s required by the company or organization).

5. Include names, titles, contact information and some story about each reference.

Set the stage for good conversations between your potential employer and your reference by including some context about how you know each other.

For example: “Sheryl hired me to set up a new accounting system, and she can tell you about how I approach a project with a tight deadline and how we got the conversion done two weeks ahead of time. She is now CFO at ABC Company.” In this way, you’re letting the person know who they’ll be talking with, and actually guiding their conversation in the direction you want it to go.

6. Let your positive work references know to expect the call.

Send an email or voicemail to let them know to expect a reference-check email or phone call. Fill them in about the company, the situation, what the job entails and why you want it, so they can be prepared for the call. Don’t forget to thank them in advance for their support.

7. You can find a way around a “no references” policy.

Some companies do not allow references and will only confirm dates, titles and perhaps salary. They do this to protect themselves from lawsuits, which is understandable, but it sucks when you need to have a reference from a specific job.

The way around this is to find someone who no longer works there who is free to talk and give you the reference you need.

8. Not sure what someone will say about you? Do a test.

If you suspect one of your references is saying negative things about you, ask a recruiter you’re working with, or a professional friend with hiring experience, to check that reference the way they would if they were interested in hiring or representing you. (Yes, it’s a little sneaky, but your career may be at stake and you need to know if someone is sabotaging you.)

9. Beef up your LinkedIn testimonials.

LinkedIn recommendations don’t replace a person-to-person conversation, but they can provide a lot of social proof that you are good at what you do. If they’re good enough, some companies might even skip the phone-reference step entirely.

Ask former coworkers for recommendations, and in your request, remind them of work you did together and things you’d like them to mention. Aim for at least two references from every job in the past ten years.

10. Follow up to thank your positive work references.

A reference puts their reputation on the line to help you out, so don’t leave them hanging. Once the decision is made, send an email or give them a call to let them know what happened and to thank them for their help. If you want to really stand out, make it a hand-written note.

If you want a little more detail about how positive work references work best, here is a Reference Checking FAQ and an article about choosing and keeping in touch with your references.

As you can see, it just takes some planning and planting some seeds for what to talk about to get your positive work references to rave about you.

 Thanks 123rf.com for the photo. 

Written by: Leslie Ayres
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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