Providing excellent job references may be key to landing your dream job. It is somewhat of a lost art that can work to your advantage if you are able to make your references part of the initial hiring process. References not only bring credibility to your resume but can also add reasons to hire you.
Why it Matters
Stand out to your potential employer by asking for written reference letters. Having your references in-hand at your first in-person interview was once expected, but today, many people do not offer them. Being different and going a bit old school can give you a competitive advantage that will not only stand out to the hiring manager but can also give them additional reasons to hire you.
Before you start the job search process, ask your references to provide a letter of reference. Getting it hand-written on company letterhead would really attract attention but at a minimum, a printed email reference should be ready to hand over at the end of your interview. Even when asked to provide reference contact information, many interviewers do not actually take the time to call them – meaning they may be missing great reasons to hire you.
Make sure they have those reasons in-hand before you leave the interview.
Ask for the Reference
At the start of a new career search, you should not only ask your references if it’s ok to use them, but also make sure they are people you have kept in touch with. Often times, people use the same references year after year – even when they have not kept in contact with the person providing the reference.
A former colleague or boss may have once written you a letter or offered to provide a reference for you as needed – keep in contact with those people and if you have not, reach out to them to catch up. By keeping your relationship warm, they are more apt to take the time to give you a handwritten reference and chat with potential employers.
Ask them to provide not only a letter of reference but a reference on LinkedIn as well. If it has been a while since you’ve been in contact, update them with what you’ve been doing and even send them new collateral such as your latest resume to help them write the best possible reference based on your new career path and strategies.
Verify their email address and preferred phone number to give potential employers. Once you land an interview, or if you’ve been asked to provide references prior to an interview, keep in touch with them to let them know they may be getting a call or email. Let them know what position you have applied for and offer ways they can help if they are contacted.
Last but not least, send your references a thank you letter once you’ve landed a job. Even if they’ve never been contacted or if you don’t know if their letter was a hiring factor – thanking them for their time is just as important as sending a post-interview thank-you note to the hiring manager.