Even your ex-boss can be a reference
REFERENCES are a critical part of your self-marketing collateral. How you choose your references and communicate with them is critical.
By the time you are at the reference-checking stage, you are 95 per cent through the job process: Your resume and the interview have demonstrated that you are qualified to do the job.
But your references provide the outside perspective so that the interviewer can decide if you are really worth the risk.
Given that the references can make or break you, start early in ensuring that you get the people who will make you look like a rock star.
1. IDENTIFY SIX PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES
Yes, six. You will likely not provide that many references to a potential employer but having a list instead of just one or two will allow you to select the people who can help you clinch the role for which you are being considered.
It will also not tax the one or two references if you are in a season of applying for jobs.
Prioritise the list of such references whose voice will count across multiple employment opportunities.
They should be people you know well - people you have worked for, worked with, or those who have worked for you or supported you.
They could be people with whom you have collaborated with on projects, outsourced providers, vendors and customers or joint venture partners.
Do not fall back on your personal friends though that is the easiest thing to do. While they may give you a glowing report, it will not be deemed of value professionally.
2. ASK PERMISSION FIRST
Contact each person and ask if he or she would be comfortable acting as a reference.
This is best done over the telephone or in person.
When you contact your references, make sure to gather complete contact information from them, and how they prefer to be contacted - for instance, by e-mail or phone and day or night.
Never release the referee's details without contacting him first. Two reasons: It is presumptuous to do so and may turn him off. Also, alerting him that he may be called on as a character reference gives him time to prepare before the call.
Send your most updated resume to him. Brief him on the important points that support the requirements of the position, so he can speak intelligently about your strengths and weaknesses and other aspects of the position.
Also, prep him with these questions to focus his thoughts about you:
What work trait would you say I am best known for?
What area of work would you say is my strength?
What would you say is an area that I should develop?
Your references will be asked iterations of these questions by your potential employers and you need to know how they will answer.
3. BE CAREFUL WITH
If one of your references is your former boss, there is a fourth question: "If an employer were asking why I left the company, would you be comfortable sharing with me how you'd answer that question?"
Do not ask your former boss bluntly why he let you go: that would instantly shut the conversation down.
You can also use written testimonials to support your application. But these reference letters are less preferred today as a credentials check.
Hiring managers want to have a personal conversation with the third-party endorsers to have a more accurate sense of who you are.
If you have a stack of reference letters, gather them in a portfolio - along with copies of degrees, certificates, awards and samples of your work - to take to the interview.
When the question comes up about what others have said about you or your professional development, you can bring these out to strengthen your discussion.
This article was contributed by
Right Management, the career development arm of United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.
Reference check your future boss
A JOB interview is a two-way decision: You want to make the best possible decision about
a prospective employer as
he does about the prospective employee, you.
Here is how to "reference check" your future boss.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Do some digital snooping. Check the company's website and read the snippets on the management staff profiles. A good website should state at least the key who's who on the top-tier team.
Also, do a Google search to see if your future boss has been quoted in the media and how
he comes across.
Check on LinkedIn to read his career snapshots. Additionally,
if you know people in the industry, ask some of them for their views of your future boss.
Read his social media updates (such as posts on Facebook or Twitter).
Use tools such as Spokeo and Mylife.com to analyse a person's online updates to get a realistic view of his personality.
Evaluate all the information
to get a sense of who your
future boss is.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Ask your future boss these questions, paying attention
to both verbal and non-verbal responses:
May I ask what your personal goals are for the department
and the chosen candidate?
What type of person do you enjoy working with or what styles of work do you like or dislike?
If you had a problem with something I did, how would
you tell me, and how would
you resolve the situation?
As a job seeker, the last thing you want to do is accept a job only to discover that you cannot work with your boss.