As a job seeker, you know that it will only be a matter of time before a prospective employer begins checking your employment references. While a majority of employers still make this check the last order of business, an increasing number are conducting them “up front” so as to spare their management from interviewing candidates whose references are less than favorable. Simply put, it behooves you to conduct due diligence with references early on to ensure they truly “have your back.”
Having said this, note that about half of all references that get checked receive an assessment of mediocre-to-poor, according to Allison & Taylor Reference Checking Inc. It’s is very possible that the terrific job you lost out on had nothing to do with your lack of skills, or being overqualified, but instead had more to do with what one of your references or past employers said about you.
So, you would be well advised to take more control of your career momentum by finding out precisely what each of your potential references will say about you. When you know who is going to say what about you, you can pass on your best references with greater confidence. Also, you may well have the opportunity to prevent your negative references from offering up negative commentary about you.
Here are five key ways to ensure that your chosen references will be an asset, not a liability:
1. After making a preliminary list of prospective references, narrow it down to key contenders. After you have made your initial reference list, select those that you feel will be most willing to give you an excellent report. A typical list of references should include five to ten names, depending on the amount of experience a candidate has accumulated.
2. Contact each reference personally. Send each reference a note (visiting them personally, if possible, is even better) stating that you are seeking new employment and asking them if they would be willing to serve as a reference. Be sure to share with them your current resume and let them know of the position you are applying for, as well as the type of qualities the company is likely seeking. Give them the impression that their reference is critical to your obtaining the job.
Also, review your past responsibilities and remind them of tangible successes you achieved with them/the company. Review with each reference what they will say in response to questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Try to learn what your references are going to say about you.
3. Communicate with your references at “crunch time.” When a specific offer is imminent, let your references know the company involved and that you will be using them as a
reference. They will feel more comfortable giving out information about you or to return a prospective employer’s call in a more timely fashion if you have forewarned them ahead of time.
4. Follow-up with your references. When you get your new position, make sure you call each reference and thank them for the role they played. Going forward, keep them posted about your career — they will appreciate your staying in touch and will be more likely to serve as a reference once again at a later date.
5. Check your references professionally. Beware leaving the impact of your references to chance. If you are not 100% convinced that your references and past employers will relay positive comments about you to prospective employers, have them checked out. A professional employment verification and reference-checking firm can either put your mind at ease, or supply you with the critical information and evidence that has been blocking your job searching efforts.
To find out more, please visit http://www.allisontaylor.com
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