It is a common practice to mention ‘Reference are Available Upon Request’, but are they? When an employer is seriously considering hiring you, they will ask for references to complete the recruitment process. In addition, employment agencies will also require that you provide references. Talking to your references helps the recruiter or the hiring manager to understand your skills-set, your qualifications and most importantly, how you will fit within their organization and cope with their culture.
Your references might be the last deciding factor in you getting the job or not; it is wise to invest effort and time in strategizing your references. Their testimony will validate your claim that you acquire the required skills and have the competency to do the job. They also will give your future employer a glimpse of your personality and professional conduct.
Who should be you reference
To decide who should you list as your reference, write down the names of all the people you worked with in a professional capacity. If you are a fresh graduate, your professors and co-op employers or managers in companies you joined as an intern are perfect to consider as references. However, you should give yourself some time to evaluate your relationship with each one of them.
In case you are employed and searching for a new job or a new career, you need to learn about the reference policy in your company.
Do not assume that everyone you worked with will accept to be your reference. Providing a reference should be with permission given by the person. Discuss with your references if they are comfortable to be contacted by future employers and what is the best way to communicate with them. Some professionals do not like to be contacted by phone; some prefer to give a written reference letter while others do not like to write recommendation letters.
Manage your relationship with your references
There is nothing more disturbing to a professional to be contacted by an employer regarding a candidate with whom they had no contact for several months or, in some cases, years. Keeping in consistent contact with your references is imperative. In today’s virtual world, maintaining your network is not a challenging task. Consider visiting their profiles on LinkedIn and sending them greetings from time to time. You can also update them on your job search and your professional advancement.
Other ways employers will research you
Contacting your references is a formal step within the recruitment cycle and employers, and recruiters know that most probably your references will give their favorable recommendations. Taking this into consideration, you have to consider “informal references”, those are the people within your network and appear in your contact list or interacting with you especially on-line. It is reported that some employers might check the Facebook or twitter account of candidates to get a full understanding of how well the candidate will fit within the company. So, consider cleaning up your contact list from any person that might give a false perception about your life.