[09.29.10]
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How To Prep And Use Your Job References

interview tips, job titles, job interview, interview process, job search, jobs seeker, job descriptions, job reference, recruitment, employment, jobs, prepped, references, prep, jobWelcome back for part two of my series on choosing and utilizing your job references.  If you missed part one, no worries.  You can read that one now.  We’ll wait.

How To Choose And Stay In Contact With Your References

So today’s post is part two and covers how to prep and use your job references.  Of these two sub-parts, I’m going to spend most of my words on “how to prep” because I think that this is where most of us fall down.

You might have chosen your job references well and kept in contact over the years.  But when it comes time to provide names and numbers to the HR group, hiring manager or recruiter, we don’t always follow through.  So here are some tips to prep your references for the process.

1.  Once you are deeply involved in an interview process.  Perhaps when you are heading into the final round.  Send a note and let them know your status, the company and the role.  Just as a quick FYI.  You can also use this e-mail to verify their preferred phone and e-mail contact info.  No details at this point.  Just setting the table.

2.  As soon as you are asked to provide job references and know the specifics of their request (total # and type), send a more complete note to each person you plan to share with the hiring company.  And let the others know you won’t need them this time (based on the request from the hiring company).  In the note to the active people, include the following:

  1. A reminder of the info you will provide for them (contact details,  name/title/company name)
  2. The job title and job description
  3. The person or department that will likely be calling
  4. The estimated timing of a call (this week, next week or more specific if you know)
  5. Your fit with the job description and company (culture, growth mode, etc)
  6. Key themes you’ve been using during the interview process (leadership, analytics, innovation)
  7. Your key accomplishments from your work together that best illustrate your value
  8. Potential questions re: any concerns or reservations expressed to you by the hiring company
  9. Your excitement for the opportunity (that should come across to the hiring company via your references)
  10. An offer that you are available for a quick call if they have any questions
  11. A big thank you and a request that they call or let you know via e-mail once that call is complete

3.  Make sure to follow-up with them after the process is over.  This is critical.  We want to know!  Regardless of the outcome, consider a small thank you gift at the very end when you land ($10 Starbucks gift card).  It does not have to be much.  People know you are cash sensitive.

So now to the second half of this post.  How to avoid over-use of your job references.

First, it is important to note that there is actual over-use and perceived over-use.  So make sure you are selecting your job references carefully (remember the criteria from the prior post).  And keep communicating well.  If, as your reference, I am confused as to what you want or don’t have the details above.  Or if I get a call out of the blue.  I can feel over-used.

Second, this is why I suggest you have ten ready to go.  So that you can rotate them if your job search extends longer than you thought.  Or if you are simply getting a lot of final interviews.  Could happen, right?

Third, if you get to a point in the interview process for a job you know you don’t want.  Don’t provide job references.  End the engagement there without bothering them.

Finally, I always tried to avoid giving out job references before the interviews were finished.  And I never attached them to or provided them with my resume.  The reason?  I don’t want to tap my busy references unless there is serious interest on both sides.

That concludes this mini series on choosing and utilizing your job references.  And it all started with a post earlier this week called: 10 Tips: Asking For Recommendations On LinkedIn.

So, how did I do?  Did I miss an obvious key issue?  Set me straight.

Photo Credit


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips
  • About a year ago, I was fortunate enough to have several promising job leads in a VERY short period of time (3 interviews and 3 offers in the span of 2 weeks). My favorite reference was certainly working overtime for me and later, told me that all three of the reference calls lasted 30 minutes or more. When the dust finally settled, I sent him a nice thank you note with a $50 Amazon gift card. It was the least I could do after he put in so much time on my behalf.

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  • Thanks Chris – That’s a nice way to take care of a good reference. While they didn’t require that from you, it certainly is a nice gesture. And shows that you are aware of the time they have put into your search.

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  • Traveler

    Yes, good tips, one more thing to mention, be sure that these people are saying positive things about you! Many people use lukewarm or negative references without even knowing it…you can get your references checked by a company like allisontaylor.com to find out for sure…

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  • I found this article very helpful. Points clear and to the point. I am pleased to see things I’m already doing, and those points which I can improve on, and thus value my referee’s as they value me!

  • Glad it helped Estelle. Best of luck to you!


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