Who You Choose As Your Reference Says It All
by Denise Davis
As a job candidate, who you include on your reference list often says more about you than their actual comments. Choose your references carefully. Here are a few of our latest tips.
Who to use as a reference. The names on your reference list say a lot about your past performance. If your reference list includes only your peers, subordinates, vendors or customers, that sends the signal that your past boss might not have good things to say about you. A future employer is most interested in what your former boss has to say about your performance. As I evaluate candidates for my search assignments, I am drawn to people that freely use their past boss, or bosses, as references. So, I always recommend listing your supervisors from previous jobs. Due to liabilities, many companies are no longer willing to provide references for their employees. However, you can often locate a former boss that is no longer with your current company. If he/she has left the company, he may be more willing to provide a reference.
Prepare your references in advance. Ask your references if they are willing to speak on your behalf to people that are considering you for employment. Ask them to be available to talk with others about your strengths and weaknesses, and to share stories of your accomplishments. Help them understand the positions you are considering so they will be prepared to comment on questions from companies. Well-prepared references can be your strongest allies.
Choose references who will be reachable. If your references are not reachable, it often means they do not want to discuss your performance. This is a big red flag. Make sure your references can be reached via email address, cell number and work number. Also, note how they are related to your career on your reference list.
Keep your references informed of your progress. Your best references are those who are interested in you and your career movements. As a courtesy, remember to keep them informed on your job search — you may need their services again in the future.