There are several things that recruiters look at when considering whether or not to hire a job candidate. While relevant experience, educational background and industry skills are important, references play a considerable role as well. In fact, the references you choose can sometimes be a deciding factor and mean the difference between getting the job or getting passed up. Here’s how to select professional references that will give you the best chance of getting hired.
When deciding who to use, there are certain qualities to look for. An article by The New York Times highlights some key qualities:
- People who you are certain think highly of you.
- People who will take the request seriously and be prepared and thoughtful in their answers.
- People who express themselves well – either verbally or in writing.
Obviously, you don’t want to go with anyone you had a falling out with in the past or might portray you in a negative light. Instead, you should look for someone with whom you’ve had a strong relationship with, and parted ways on amicable terms.
Professionalism is highly important, so you should only use a person who is going to present well. Finally, you will want someone who has solid interpersonal skills and who will be polite and courteous if contacted by a recruiter.
Narrow it Down
After doing some brainstorming and examining potential references, you’ll want to identify three-to-five people. Ideally, you’ll choose the top three who would best help your chances of landing a job and have an additional two on the backburner just in case. This should make sure you’re covered if a recruiter wants more than three references.
Ask Before Using Them
You never want to put someone down as a reference without first contacting them and asking if they’re okay with it. This is bad etiquette, and could come back to haunt you if they’re contacted and caught completely by surprise. That’s why you should always ask for a person’s consent before including them on your reference list. In most cases, they’ll be flattered, but you still want to be certain.
Give Your References a Heads Up
When a recruiter asks for references, you’ll want to notify everyone you’ve listed so they won’t be caught off guard. If possible, you should inform them of the position you’re applying for and give them a copy of your current resume. You may also want to explain how your skill set and experience are relevant to the job you’re seeking. This should tie up any loose ends, and the interaction between your recruiter and references should be smooth.
By selecting professional references the right way and being prepared, you can find the best possible people to represent you and put in a good word. With any luck, their input will work in your favor and influence your recruiter to hire you. For more tips and advice on landing a job, check out our resource center.