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6 Things to Avoid with Respect to References

Your job search is a marketing campaign. Since you are the product, your advertising should include a resume, cover letter, and online presence (LinkedIn). What about the references, where do they fit in and what are some common things to avoid?


Choosing and preparing your references will take some work, and It is easy to make mistakes that could lessen your chances of securing a job. Avoid these seven common errors.


Mistake 1) Providing Inadequate References


The more relevant and credible the people you select as references, the more they should know about your work ethic. Most prospective employers will want to talk with your manager or supervisor, but it may be difficult if you are keeping the job hunt process a secret and most companies will not give references (fear of confidentiality issues).


What about students? Whom should they use for references? They may need to ask teachers or professors, coaches or contacts from their volunteer work.


Mistake 2) Giving Out Your List too Early


Ensuring your references are protected is important. Don’t release your reference list until they are requested. Submitting it too soon lets the employer pick and choose who they’ll contact. The preferred approach is for you to suggest one or two references most relevant for the job. If the employer asks for more names, or makes a specific request,  such as wanting to speak to your most recent boss,  you can respond accordingly. Reference letters could also work, but you will need to ask if they are sufficient.


Mistake 3) Not Preparing Your References


Imagine if an employer calls your reference and the reference has no clue why they are being contacted. They may not be able to focus on your strengths, remember key details (how long they worked with you), and other pertinent information.

  • Inform them in advance the job you are trying to obtain
  • Find out what they may say about you, and make some helpful, specific suggestions about skills, experience and personality traits you would like highlighted
  • Send them a copy of your resume, and the job description


Mistake 4) Making It Hard to Contact Them


Ensure that when it is time to contact your references,  make it easy for the employer to get in touch with them. If your references are outside your time zone, let them know what the best time to contact the reference (convert the reference’s time zone, into local time zone), and or provide email for secondary method of communication.


Mistake 5) Overusing Your References


The longer your job search goes, the more likely you may run into this problem. To prevent this, you should have a couple of backup references. Consider alternating the references you use periodically. Keep in contact with the references, and get their feedback.


Mistake 6) Neglecting to Properly Say Thank You


Your references are sticking their necks out for you. What they say on your behalf could win or lose the job.  Be appreciative of their efforts. If you get that new job, make sure the references who made the biggest difference know it. Offer to return the favour one day as you never know when the roles will be reversed.


If you liked this article, please share and let us know below in the comments if you have other mistakes to avoid. Thanks!

  • Josh Denomey says:

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