Job references — and the people who make them — are often overlooked in the job search. They are an afterthought, if thought of at all. But your job references support you when it counts.
Let’s check the ways you can help your references help you.
Honestly, this should not be a problem. But it is.
Here’s where people get messed up: the contact information they use for their references is corporate information. The company telephone number. The company cell phone number. The company e-mail address. This doesn’t work.
Too often, the corporate contact information changes from reorganizations, new jobs within a company, people leaving the company but not telling you (so now how do you contact them?) or by people getting laid off. The business world moves too fast and keeping the corporate contact information correct is tough.
Instead, get and keep the current reference cell phone number. Plus the reference’s personal e-mail address that you know is checked often by your reference (people can have multiple e-mail addresses they check once a week…that won’t work for a reference…).
The contact information is less likely to change and will also show a hiring manager that you have a personal relationship with your references.
Time is of the essence here. If a hiring manager is asking for job references, they will often call the same day as the interview for the reference while the interview is still fresh on their minds. You can’t wait a day to casually e-mail your references and let them know they might be called; you have to call them, leave them voice mails, and e-mail them as soon as you can after you provide the contact information to the hiring manager.
The key to getting the great reference, as compared to the merely good one, is that the reference knows how to target their knowledge of you to the person calling for the reference.
Here’s the key information you need to give your reference about the position:
And, if you are a reference for someone, make sure you get this information from your person so you can refer with confidence ;>))
Finally, get feedback from your reference. First, not re-contacting your reference about what the resolution was for your interview is simply rude. This person is doing you a great service and you need to acknowledge and thank your reference for their help whether they get the job or not.
But there is another important reason to get feedback from your reference: you get more insight into the position and can better decide to accept or decline it.
Did the questions of the reference match up to your impressions of the interview? If you had the hiring manager talking to your manager reference, did your reference think that you and the hiring manager would work well together? How did the hiring manager treat your colleague and co-worker references? Did you get any more insights into management style?
How about the job? Was there more insights into the role? Something that wasn’t in the job description? What were the most important questions asked about the position to the reference?
Your reference is a great source of more information about the company, manager and role you are looking to nail. By getting feedback from your reference, you add to your knowledge as well. But you need to ask.
The job reference is the last step in the job search process (versus the decision to accept a job). In a tight competition, how you treat your references can often help make that final push to make you the candidate of choice for the job.
Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. In 2005, Scot started sharing these hard lessons at CubeRules.com, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.