Making the best possible impression on a potential employer means having all your application materials in order. Your cover letter should be concise but powerful, your resume well-organized and tailored to the demands of the job. And your references, of course, should have nothing but good things to say about you.
Naturally, you want references who are “in your corner” – people who can support the image you’re creating in your cover letter and resume and who won’t torpedo your chances with a bad or lukewarm reaction when asked about your work. How can you choose the right references and ensure they’re saying positive things about your work? Consider these tips:
Choose the right people.
Most companies assume you’ll offer professional references – people you have worked alongside or people who have directly supervised you and who can comment on your skills and accomplishments based on their own first-hand knowledge. But not just any co-worker or supervisor will do. The best references are people who:
- Want to see you succeed,
- Can “think fast” if asked an unexpected or tough question,
- Can describe your strengths and weaknesses with clarity and precision,
- Are people you trust and feel good about listing as references.
Look for people who both know what you can do and have the ability to describe it vividly. Even the most enthusiastic and informed reference isn’t much help if he or she only answers a prospective employer in monosyllables. Likewise, avoid choosing references who are not up to date with your current work.
Ask your potential references first.
Once you have a list of potential references, contact each of them to ask if you can use them as a reference. Let them know what kind of work you’re looking for, and consider sending each one a copy of your resume or updating them on your most recent accomplishments, especially if you’ve just passed a major milestone like a promotion or advanced degree.
Why ask your references for their help?
- Asking makes you appear professional and courteous,
- Asking prepares your references to expect contact from potential employers, giving them a chance to think through what they’ll say,
- Asking helps you judge whether or not they would make a good reference, and
- Asking “taps in” to your professional network by letting your references know that you are looking for a new job.
Talk to your recruiter.
An experienced recruiter can help you improve the quality of your references and keep them “on point” so that their message enhances your job applications, rather than detracting from them.
At Marquee Staffing, our experienced recruiters can help you create the best possible first impression on potential employers in your field. Contact us today to learn more about our great job opportunities in California.