What about References?

Nancy Anderson
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With networking and soft skills such big deals in a contemporary job search as of 2018, providing a list of references to an employer may not seem like a priority. But a professional reference still has an important function, which is why your list should include the people who can speak to your best qualities. Discover why you need references no matter what job you want.

Who Exactly Serves as a Professional Reference?

A professional reference is someone who can vouch for your qualifications, expertise, accomplishments and soft skills necessary to fulfill the duties of the job. This person could be a former colleague, a current client, a vendor or a former supervisor. Recent college graduates might tap into professors, mentors, coaches or someone who can talk about their college experiences. You still have this person's contact information, and you're still on good terms.

A professional reference talks about work-related traits, such as communication skills, teamwork, leadership and collaborative efforts. When you list a provable accomplishment on a resume, an employer contacts the person who supervised that activity to verify you achieved what you said you did. A reference can also talk about your work ethic, whether you showed up on time and how long he supervised you.

How Do You Find the Perfect Reference?

The ideal reference can speak specifically to your skill set. When you list a successful project you completed, contact your reference to see if he remembers that project and your role in it. Each reference should be able to speak glowingly of how you solved problems, worked with a team, listened to feedback and performed above expectations.

Talk to your reference before putting him down on your list. Make sure he plans to speak positively about you. Consider writing an email to the person and ask if he plans on giving you a positive recommendation and get the response in writing. You can always find written recommendations on LinkedIn to point out to employers. Thank the person for his time and willingness to help you land a job and consider writing him a positive recommendation in return.

How Do You List References for Employers?

A list of references for your job search should be separate from your resume simply because it takes up too much space on a resume. List the name, job title, company, address, phone number and email address of each professional reference. Make sure you let your references know when the employer plans to contact them so they can prepare and get their permission first.

A well-prepared professional reference can make or break your ability to land a dream job, so coach each one as to the nature of your potential position and who should be calling. How has a reference made a difference in your professional life?

Photo courtesy of Mysa Tonygoba at Flickr.com


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