5 Steps to Make Your References Stand Out

December 08, 2012 |

5 Steps to make your references a powerful asset on your behalf.

It’s no secret that in today’s challenging job market, you’ll likely need some less-than-traditional tools in your arsenal. Too many applicants simply use their previous references as a listing to be offered upon request by prospective employers, say the reference checking experts at Allison & Taylor.

Here are 5 steps designed to make your references powerful assets in your job-seeking toolbox:

1. First, make a list of all your prospective references. Begin with the first job that is relevant in management of your career today. You need to select those who have carefully observed your job performance. Your references need to have seen you in action, hopefully performing well in adverse conditions. Be sure to gather all- important contact data about every potential reference, including: name, title, company, address, telephone/fax number, and e-mail address. (Get information on how to modernize your reference list here.)

2. Narrow the list. After you have made your list of references, select those that you feel will be most willing to give you an excellent report. A typical list of references should include at least 5 names, depending on the amount of experience a candidate has accumulated.

3. Contact each reference personally (beforehand). Send each selected reference a note stating that you are seeking new employment and that you would like to use them as a reference. Be sure to share with them your current resume and let them know of the position you are applying for, as well as the type of qualities the company is likely seeking. Emphasize those aspects of your skill set that you wish highlighted by the reference to prospective employers. (Click here for 5 tips to make sure your professional reference an asset.)

4. Conduct your “due diligence” ahead of time. The last thing you want is to lose out on a good position because you did not have your references organized, validated and prioritized. You can even use your references as effective networking tools in asking them to keep your name out in front of those with whom they associate. Again, tell your references what you have been doing since the last time you worked with them. Not only is this the courteous thing to do; it also keeps them updated on your career. Any reference that is well informed about the progression of your career will be a much better reference. Lastly, ask them if they know of any current job openings in your field.

5. Finally, craft your finished product – your reference list that showcases your working relationship, and skill set, with each of your key references. Create your reference list so that an employer will see exactly how you/your references interacted, and those attributes that will “talk” to the skill set your prospective employers are seeking. (See how to format your reference list by clicking here.)

In summary, utilize a proactive, creative approach to showcasing your references to differentiate yourself from most other applicants and ensure that the next “new hire” will be…you.

About Allison & Taylor:
Allison & Taylor and its principals have been in the business of checking references for corporations and individuals since 1984. Allison & Taylor is headquartered in Rochester, Mich. For further details on services and procedures please visit http://www.allisontaylor.com
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Job interview expert Carole Martin has been a prime contributor to our Veteran Jobs blog, and now she’s offering her advice to veterans and service members who have questions, general or specific, about tackling the civilian job interview process. Send Carole your questions at interviewquestions@interviewcoach.com, and moving forward, we’ll feature her answers in this blog.

About Carole Martin

The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. A contributing writer at Monster.com and featured on talk radio, Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. Learn more about her Federal Agency Interview Coaching and Coaching for Business Interviews at www.interviewcoach.com.
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