The job hunt can feel a little lonely at times, but don’t worry! In addition to your best professional clothes and a polished resume, you can march into your next interview with your very own cheerleading squad backing you up; not with backflips and pom-poms, but with first-hand accounts of your work and the credibility of professional experience.
Every new job hopeful needs to be able to make their case for the value they can add to a new opportunity, but self-promotion is only one part of the job search puzzle. With a handful of verifiable professional references at the ready, you can add authority and add perspective to your application.
Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing the reference portion of your job search materials:
If you plan to use a former colleague as a professional reference, it is extremely important to let them know first! Nothing can make a reference think twice about vouching for you quite like being caught off guard. Try catching up with people in your network prior to needing their feedback, and when the time is right, let them know of your current situation and need for help.
Always make sure your references are knowledgeable of your work history and the new opportunity you are hoping to land. Discrepancies in work titles, job responsibilities and other details can call the accuracy of your references in question, so make sure everyone is on the same page.
A Resume’s Best Friend
Your references should be separate from your resume document. Typically, three to four names is a good number to be typed up and included on your separate references sheet. Details you should include for each entry are:
Name, contact information, job title, employer, business address and relationship to you.
Keep in mind that while your reference sheet should be separate from your resume, it is still a good idea to have the two match in format and style; try using the same font and layout considerations when crafting your application materials.
No matter the final outcome of the interview process, always be sure to check-in and follow up with your resumes throughout. These contacts are going above and beyond to personally impact your job search, so “Thank you” messages in the form of letters, emails and face-to-face meetings are always appreciated. Remember – you can always return the favor if a reference of yours is in need down the line!
You’ll always be the MVP of your job search, but everyone needs some backup every now and then. By enlisting the help of your professional references, you might just be able to start a new career.
Do you have any suggestions for rallying the support of your own personal cheerleading squad? Share your reference advice below!