Searching for a job can be a tremendously challenging process even in the best of times. In order to speed things up and get yourself gainfully employed as quickly as you can, you should muster every possible advantage you can collect. Picking out great references and using them wisely is an excellent way to give yourself a leg up.
What Employers Are Looking For
Do you think employers are really trying to develop an unbiased impression of your character when they call your references? No. They will assume that anybody you hand-pick to serve as a reference will give a glowing report about how you can walk on water and deflect bullets. What employers really want to find out about is exactly what you did and how you did it when you worked for or with your reference. Everyone will present their past work experiences in the best possible light when composing their resume but references with first-hand knowledge can give employers a more even-handed picture. This means you should concentrate you reference selection on people who have seen you working at your best. Co-workers can serve this function just as well as (if not better than) former supervisors.
How To Present References
Note that references and letters of recommendation are separate things. A reference is someone you have worked or studied with, who is prepared to speak with a would-be employer or hiring manager when contacted. You can include both letters and references in your portfolio of hiring information, but keep them separated and present only the resources your potential employer is looking for. (If in doubt, ask!)
References shouldn’t appear on your resume itself. Create a separate list of references in the same style as your resume. Don’t bother providing it unless you are asked for it. The people on your list should all be equipped with a copy of your resume and be aware that they might be contacted on your behalf.
Nightmare References To Avoid
Hopefully, the preceding discussion has already given you a pretty good idea of who you should be asking to serve as your references. As noted above, there’s no reason to hesitate about asking a former co-worker for help in this capacity. It should go without saying, but family members should also be avoided for obvious reasons. Employers will rightly expect a completely biased response from a reference who’s related to you.
Speaking very generally, it’s better to have no references than to have deceptive ones like buddies and relatives. It has happened to the best of us. There might have been one job or internship that you just didn’t do well with and may even have been fired from. A former employer who had to let you go or one from whom you separated in any sort of negative circumstance should be kept as far as possible from potential new employers.
There is definitely an art to picking and preparing references, and one solid recommendation in your favor can do a lot for your chances of getting hired. Devote a little effort to shaping up your reference pool so that you can point your next employer towards someone that can reliably give them the information they need.
Ryan Beach is the owner of Final Stop SEO, a successful company helping businesses across the country to grow and prosper. If you are ready to dominate the search engines, visit FinalStopSEO.com today.