While they may not be as showy as the resume or as intensive as the job application itself, references and recommendations play a major role in landing a job. They add another perspective into the hiring process by integrating the voice of someone who knows you well, either on a professional or a personal level, and has witnessed first-hand your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is critical you pick employment references who will represent you well and accurately and portray you in a good light to a hiring manager. The more your references know you, and the more highly they think of you, the better you will appear to your future employer. If you are required to turn in recommendations as part of your job application, it is vital that these also shed unique insight on your personality and skillset and help to create a well-rounded picture of you as a desirable hire.
Employment Reference Protocol: What Works and What Doesn’t
There are a great deal of factors to consider when choosing the individuals who you want to be your employment references. When considering your reference potential, here are some questions to ask yourself
- In what capacity does this individual know me? Does he or she see me as a professional, a team player, both or neither?
- How long has this person known me?
- Has she or he supervised my work directly, or have I simply worked alongside this person?
- Is he or she able to answer important personal questions and my work history, such as: why I left my last job, how I cope when faced with challenges and obstacles, why I was or was not promoted at my last job and whether he or she would recommend me for the job for which I’m applying?
In general, it is best to select employment references who know you on a professional level and who have directly supervised you. Unless specifically directed, avoid choosing family or friends as references. If possible, pick references who have known you for at least two years, preferably more. If you have the option of choosing references who are well-known, well-respected and powerful in your field, these people can sometimes carry more weight and may reflect even more positively on your potential.
How to Go About Getting References
It is important to speak directly with your references in order to get their express permission to put their names and contact information on your job application. Make sure you give your potential references the common courtesy of a few weeks, or at least several days, notice before giving their information to your potential employer.
You might also like to have a conversation with your references in order to give them some information about the opportunity you are applying for, updating them on any changes in your life or skillset and simply reminding them of their relationship with you. If necessary, you may need to go over certain details with your reference, such as confirming exactly when you left your last job or what tasks you performed and for how long.
The more of an ongoing connection you are able to have with your references, the more easily they will be able to talk about you. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain contact with your references as long as you are using their contact information when applying for jobs.
Similarly, when getting recommendations for potential jobs, it is important that these letters be dated as recently as possible. They should come from professionals whom know you well and have directly supervised you in some capacity, if possible. Recommendation letters should be sure to note how long the reference has known you, in what ways the individual has worked with you and any relevant factors that may reflect on your capabilities as an employee.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.