The Do’s & Don’ts of Professional References

Posted on

A manager giving his millennial worker feedback to better improve his overall performance on the job.Receiving a solid letter of recommendation or reference from a supervisor, teacher or one of your peers can go a long way when you eventually start looking for a new position or job.

References should always be from verifiable sources as well as convey a positive and favorable image of your personality, achievements, and skills.

Merely asking for a reference is not enough, yet it is a mistake many job seekers make. References and letters of recommendation should always be thoroughly documented and include the name of your contact and their preferred method of communication. Let’s have a look at some do’s and don’ts of professional references.

Do Choose the Right References

One amazing reference will definitely outweigh a handful of average ones. Before you include someone on your list of references, it is crucial that you analyze whether or not it is a good reference. When in doubt, a quick phone call will help solve the issue. It is better to ask for permission to include a reference than to blow your chances of landing your dream position if that reference ends up not being so positive after all.

Needless to say you should choose wisely who you ask for references. Ensure that the person knows your work ethics, skills, and character.

Don’t List Your References Directly on Your Resume

This may seem like a no-brainer for some, but many job seekers still include references directly on their resume. Instead, simply mention that you do have references and that you will gladly provide a list upon request. This is common practice, and while it is expected that you will provide references upon request, this sentence is often used to denote the end of your resume and leaves the ball in the hiring manager or employer’s court.

Do Have a List Ready

Depending on the industry or field you work in, you may very well be interviewed on the spot. It is always better to be prepared. Make sure you have a separate sheet of paper that lists all the references you have. This list should include the name, contact information, and some details about your relationship with your reference. Don’t make your references an after-thought.

Don’t Offer Your References Right Away

Keep in mind than recruiting and hiring managers are busy, and some may not even ask for your references. Overwhelming your interviewer or recruiter with a full list of references before they even had the time to look at your resume is not such a good idea. Simply wait until you are asked for your references and provide the list then.

Do Keep Your References Up to Date

It is common practice to let your references know that you are currently looking for employment, working on a career change, or that you applied for a position – and that they may get a call from a recruiter or hiring manager looking for more information about you and your skills. A simple email or phone call may do the trick.

Don’t Forget to Thank Your References

A reference is a professional courtesy that someone has extended you. They are not required to give you a reference or recommendation letter – they are making you a favor. After all, they are not receiving monetary compensation for returning a hiring manager’s phone call. Why not take them out for coffee or send them a thank you note? This will help foster a healthy relationship between you and your past employers, teachers and co-workers.

Contributor

Jon Phillips is an interface designer with a strong focus on user-centered and interaction design, and a lover of great typography. When he's not designing or writing, he can be found playing guitar or capturing great moments on camera.

Comments are closed.