Archive for January, 2015

Your References – Care and Feeding

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

pupstextMany of us set a goal for new employment this time of year. Along with updating the resume, online profiles and reconnecting with people, make an appointment with yourself to consider your reference strategy.

My what? My references are my former employers, right? Not necessarily.  Yes, potential employers traditionally want past bosses, but they often check with others. Nearly all have already googled you and looked at social media sites. After all, would you list anyone that wouldn’t speak well of you? And you may not want your current boss to find out you are leaving through a reference call.

From the hiring person’s point of you, you can do the job, but they want to know, “Can you do the job with Us?”  The interview and reference check is all about “will you fit in” as well as “are you who you say you are.”

Choose your references based on the potential new job and employer.  Select people who know your work and contributions that are relevant for the potential job. This can include your previous bosses, but also people you interacted with to get things done. Include similar relationships in any of your volunteer work. Sometimes these are more relevant to the new job!  Let the potential employer know your relationship (not relatives) to the names you provide. Check to ensure your references will be available to take a call.  Do the legwork to provide current contact information.

Give them a heads-up – don’t let your reference be caught unprepared for a reference call. At minimum, remind him/her of a few of the great things you did while working together. Tell him/her the type of opportunity you ow want and why you want this particular job. Be sure she/he has a copy of your current resume to know what you’ve done since last working with them.  Let them know who will be calling, the time frame and anything about the job that will give them context for their comments.  Use this conversation to catch up with them and learn about their career progress and how you may be of assistance to them.

If you think a reference may not paint the rosiest picture of you, or you don’t want your current employer know you are looking, address this in the interview. Be honest but don’t bad-mouth or place blame. You can provide context and framing for what the reference-checker might hear. If you don’t, your potential employer may never tell you that the reference is why they rejected you. The time to speak up is before they place the call. Offer a performance appraisal or other people that they may contact to get the assurance they need.

Your references are precious along your career.  Maintain your professional relationship with them through networking and appropriate social media throughout the year.

Happy New Work!