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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Great references can secure your next job

Excellent references can put you ahead of the competition when it comes time for companies to make a hiring decision. If an employer has to choose between two equal candidates, great references can be the determining factor that land you your next job. With increased competition for every job you need to make sure that your references are up to date and that they know you are looking for a job. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your references:

What to do first?

Before you get started on your job search you should contact your most recent references to inform them you are looking for a new position. Have a detailed discussion on the types of jobs you are looking for and make sure they are both willing and available to give you a good reference and to discuss your job performance with a potential future employer. If the information you discuss with your references is anything but glowing do not use that reference. Contacting your references ahead of time also informs them that you are on the job market and you can ask them to keep an eye out for you as well.

When do companies ask for references?

On the job application there is a space for references. If the job application is online you may need to complete this section if it is a required field. If you are comfortable, list your references on the application. Make sure you have your references' work and mobile phone numbers with best time to call as well as their email addresses. This allows the potential employer to have multiple ways to contact your references. If you don't feel it's appropriate listing your references at this point you can simply write that references will be provided upon request. This allows you to supply the references once the company establishes you are in contention for the job.

How many references should I list?

Generally companies like to speak with 3 references. One peer or client reference and two past supervisors. If they request a current employer reference you can contact a trusted peer / colleague and confidentially disclose that you are looking for a new job. For the supervisor / manager references a direct line reporting supervisor / manager is best.

What type of questions do companies ask?

Depending on who is checking your reference (Human Resources (HR), Recruiter or Hiring Manager) the questions will vary. If HR / Recruiting is checking references the questions will be usually more personality and general job performance versus the hiring manager who will ask more job specific questions.

What if my references are unwilling/unable to give detailed information?

Due to legal reasons a lot of companies are not able to provide detailed references. Make sure you ask your references if they are able to give detailed information ahead of time. If they are not able to give detailed information but you still want to list them as a reference inform the future employer on the application or when references are requested.

What is a company wants to verify employment with HR?

If you complete a background check release form for a future employer it allows them the ability to verify your past / current employers. Companies check for your position title, dates of employment and eligibility for re-hire. This information is confidential and is not shared within the organizations.

What if I left a previous employer on bad terms?

If you had a negative experience with a previous employer you may need to do some damage control. If your reason for leaving was your direct supervisor or other manager, try to find a trusted peer who can give you a good reference. Talk to the peer reference before you start your job search and inform them to keep things positive.

What if the company is checking my previous employers and I didn't list a past job on my resume?

It's best for you to list all previous jobs on your application. If you left after a short period of time make sure you disclose this job as well as the reason you left the position on your application.

What about my profiles on social networking sites?

Professional social media sites such as LinkedIn allow the user to have online professional recommendations. These sites allow a potential employer to view your profile and see who has recommended you in the past. However, the future employer is not able to contact these individuals directly. It's best to use these sites as an additional reference tool but not to eliminate the traditional reference check.

What about letters of recommendation?

If you have letters of recommendation make sure the contact information is listed on the letter and the future employer is able to contact this reference directly.

Don't make the reference check hinder you from earning your next job. It's always best to take the honest and upfront approach with your references so your future employer knows you are professional and ethical.,

1 comment:

  1. My situation is that I worked for one other store while employeed at CVS during a three year period. When I transfered to a different store location I experienced issues with my supervisor and utimately was fired. I have been using discharged for the reason for leaving. I have not received great remarks only to find myself unemployed. This is frustrating because I know that it was a personal issue. What can I do.


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