Staffing Resources

Are Your References Helping or Hurting Your Chances For the Job?

June 5th, 2018

The phrase ‘references available upon request’ was once the popular trend for resumes. It showed employers you had people to speak for you, but let job seekers off the hook of actually having to list anyone. As resumes continue to become more streamlined, employers just assume you have references because you should.

 

Before you apply for any position, you should know exactly who you’re going to use as references with the contact information handy so if asked, you can respond promptly. Taking too long can look as if you’re scrambling or trying to think of who to list. Your selection process should be more in-depth than listing three previous supervisors. If you want to help your chances for the job instead of hurting them, follow these tips.

 

Select the right people

This breaks down into two thoughts – pick the right people who can speak to your qualifications for a position and pick the right people who won’t say something ridiculous. At this point, most people know never list your family because they’ll provide a biased and likely unknowledgeable opinion about your work.

 

Think about those you’ve worked with in the past with whom you have a good relationship. Including someone just because you were acquainted can backfire if they call and the person has no idea why they’d be included on your list. Who you choose says a lot about your thought process, professionalism, and preparation.

 

Ask for permission

Even if you’ve used someone before and have an ongoing relationship, you should always get their permission before using them again. If you have an agreement to always use them, let them know ahead of time so they’re prepared for the call. Failing to let your references know you’re giving their information to someone may cause the call to go unanswered or them being unable to properly discuss you because they’re surprised by the call.

 

Cultivate your list

As a general rule, you should always maintain a list of references with their contact information, so you have someone who can speak to your skills and abilities for a number of positions. This list will also help you stay in touch, so the contact is always ready to back you up instead of being confused because you haven’t spoken in years.

 

The key to making sure your references help instead of hurt is putting in the work before applying and clearing everything, so you know you have three to five people who are willing and excited to speak about your character.

 

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