It is best to have your references listed on letterhead matching that used for your cover letter and resume. Have several copies available at interviews.
Too often job seekers do not realize the importance of references. Whenever you are interviewed you should be prepared to provide a list of 4 to 6 references whoare familiar with your work. Your references may include:
Employees You Have Supervised
It is important to ask permission before using a name as reference. Keep in mind that potential employers will verify your educational credentials and will call your references.
Usually, it is best to wait to be asked for references, but if you are sure that you are seriously being considered for the position, you may want to offer them. Recently, some employers have indicated that they prefer to receive references with the initial résumé and cover letter.
Also, if you have been dismissed from your previous position, it is best to offer references that you know will present you most positively.
Studies indicate that when job searches take a long time, poor references are a problem in about 40% of the cases.
Often phone calls can be avoided if you have letters of reference to offer.
Remember to send your references a copy of your resume to remind them of your skills and your objective.
PREPARE A LIST OF REFERENCES
Business phone with area code
Home phone with area code
Many employers check references in the evening and call home phone numbers.
You may wish to help your references by reviewing the following information to use as a guideline to assist in verbal and written responses:
How do you know me?
How long have you known me?
What specific results or accomplishments have I provided for the company?
Under what circumstances did my leave?
Would you rehire me?
How did I get along with people?
What was the quality and quantity of my work performance?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Do you know anything that would disqualify me from performing the job in question?
Is there any other information you can share?
Is there any other person in the company who can discuss my work performance?
Your references must have a copy of your resume, letter of reference, and the guideline questions on their desks when the reference checker calls.
Immediately upon completion of an interview that has gone well, you may want to notify your references that you believe that the company is considering making you an offer and the reference-checking calls may be coming. Highlight what was discussed in the interview, tell your references briefly about the company and the person who interviewed you, what job you are pursuing, and what qualifications from your background you highlighted.
LETTERS OF REFERENCE
If requested, or if your references need help remembering your strengths and skills, you may offer to send a sample letterthat can be edited. Ask to have the letter on business for organization letterhead.
COVER LETTER REQUESTING LETTER
May 22, 2008
Mr. Joseph P. Smith Chief Executive Officer The Sun Energy Corporation 3333 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44114
Dear Mr. Smith or Joe (depending on your relationship):
I want to thank you for your assistance in my job search. I am working hard to pursue a new career in sales management.
My job search has presented one need for which I would like to ask your help - a letter of reference.
Based upon our prior discussion, you were pleased with my work. Stating this fact in writing will enable me to present your reference when a request arises. As you requested, I have drafted a letter which you may wish to change as needed. Please provide the letter of reference on the company's letterhead.
I appreciate your support. If I can answer any questions, please call me at 330-224-6733.
Very best regards,
DRAFT LETTER OF REFERENCE
Calvin Paulson Chief Executive Officer The Windmill Energy Equipment Corporation 867 Kingston Drive Palm Desert, CA 90092
RE: Jessica Tanner
Dear Mr. Paulson:
Ms. Jessica Tanner was employed by The Sun Energy Company from 1997 to 2007, at which time she held the position of Sales Manager and Public Relations Director for this emerging solar energy firm. She was on the ground floor of this organization and contributed greatly to its growth and success.
When she left The Sun Energy Company her position was divided into two positions. Jessica is a very level-headed person who develops long-term professional relationships with co-workers and clients. She is an effective trainer and motivator, and has achieved success as a hands-on sales manager.
Jessica knows how to get a sales team going, retain old clients, and generate new business. She is always readily available, flexible, organized, and open to new ideas.
Jessica's personal integrity, professional skills, and broad-based experience would make him an asset to any organization. I would certainly employ her again.
If you have any questions, please call me at 940-887-4567.
Joseph P. Smith
REFERENCES WIN JOB OFFERS
According to Martin Yate, author of the "Knock Em Dead" books, resumeswin interviews but references win job offers. The higher the level of the position for which you are interviewing, the more thoroughly your references will be checked.
You must be certain that your references will seal the deal, not eliminate your opportunity. Most people spend too little time focusing on their references while busy writing résumés, developing interview skills, networking, and deciding on the appropriate clothing for the interview. All of these things are very important but your references are equally important. In the days just before you receive an offer your biggest concern should be the quality of your references.
Few candidates realize that a primary reason they don't receive a job offer is because their references failed them. Human resource professional report that about half of all checked references fall into the mediocre to poor category.
Some of the comments human resource professionals have recently heard when checking references include:
"Company policy prohibits us saying anything. We can only verify dates of employment and title"
"All I can suggest is that you check his references very carefully."
"Are you certain she gave my name as a reference?"
"We miss him very much. Too bad he was let go."
"After we settle our lawsuit..."
"Is she still in this field?"
References won't call to warn you that they won't be complimentary. With companies policies changing, employee turnover running high in many HR departments, and new laws being enforced concerning references and company liability, it is safe to say that the reference situation is changing.
One way to gain greater control of your job search is to find out whatpotential references will say about you. If the odds hold true, your references will range from outstanding to damaging. When you know what former employers and co-workers will say about you, you can give only the names of your best references with greater confidence.
After you select your references, be sure that your contact information iscorrect and list name, title, company, address, city, state, zip, telephone number, and e-mail address for each one. Make sure that your list is accurate and complete. Print your references on letterhead that matches your résumé and cover letter. This makes a professional-looking presentation.
Try to meet with each reference personally. If you cannot have a personal meeting, call and speak with each one.
Provide a copy of yourcurrent résumé to enable your references to see how you are marketing yourself to prospective employers.
Tell them the types of positions you are seeking and the qualities the companies require for the positions. Make it clear that their references are critical to your selection for the job.
Reference checkers will usually ask your references to rate your skills in the following areas:
Reference checkers will also ask references if they would enthusiasticallyrecommend you, their thoughts on the circumstances of your separation from your previous jobs, and for any additional comments.
In-depth reference checks provide prospective employers with large amounts of information that can be used to break a tie between competing candidates.
To help your cause, refresh the memories of your references regarding the position you held. Review your pastresponsibilities and achievements for the company. Then discuss your strengths and weaknesses.
During your conversation, update them on what you are doing, how you have added experience and turned old weaknesses into strengths. If they believe that you are aware of your weaknesses, it may prompt them to tell interviewers that you are open-minded and striving to grow professionally.
When there is a specific job opportunity, contact your references, tell them the name of the company, how you would fit in the open position, and that you will be using them as a reference. This will make them more comfortable in sharing information about you.
THANK YOU NOTES
Always, always send a Thank You Note to your references, and let them know when you secure a new position. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated.