References rank high on the list of things potential employers look out for when hiring for an open position. Your references are the people who are close to you and can vouch for or describe your character and work ethic. Such vouches usually come from former employers, co-workers, friends, or family members.
Interestingly, the need for references only comes up if and when you get to the advanced stage of the recruitment process. Your potential employers must have seen and assessed your resume and cover letter, interviewed you, and found you a good fit for the open position before asking you for references.
While the request for reference doesn’t automatically translate to getting a job, it indicates definite interest. You only get to the finish line if you can provide excellent references that give your potential employers just the conviction they are looking for. It also sets you apart from other candidates (if any) and ensures that you get the job. This, and a few other reasons, is why you should provide only relevant, quality, and verifiable job references.
Before we discuss how to ask for a job reference, let’s understand the proper references. You can get the best references from people you have had a pleasant work or personal experience with. For instance, your past supervisors or managers or your current employers are in the best positions to refer you.
The ideal job reference must also be relevant. This is why you should choose people who can specifically highlight your accomplishments and capabilities. While asking for a close friend –a college roommate, for instance—for a job reference is easier, they might struggle to recommend you based on your skills, accomplishments, and potentials.
Getting your references right increases your chances of getting the job significantly.
Contrary to the popular view, asking for a job reference is not difficult. It is even easier for anyone who has had a considerable number of previous job engagements. However, even if you are hunting for your first job post-college, there are easy ways to get the best references to take you closer to your dream role.
Here four proven steps you can follow to ask successfully and get job references from the right people:
The first step is to identify the people you want to reach and ask for job references. In doing this, you must factor in three things:
Once you have identified which of your skills your potential employer is interested in, you can easily scan through your network to see the best person(s) that can speak about these skills. While you may have a long list of skills, not everyone in your network would know or be able to discuss these abilities because they have no intimate or direct knowledge of them. Finally, you should find someone who will be available and willing to accept your request and write a reference letter.
There are different ways to go about this, but the best is to contact them by phone or in person. By contacting your potential references, you are trying to refresh their memory of you and your relationship (if you have not been in constant communication) and confirming if they will be a good reference.
From your conversation with people, you can easily sense their willingness or reluctance to give you a positive recommendation. Alternatively, you can ask them directly to be your reference. If they are willing, you may need to refresh their memory, for instance, by sharing your accomplishment or previous projects together. This is necessary so they will remember to add this to your reference letter when they eventually write one.
Your potential references may need a copy of your resume and the job announcement to help them structure your reference letter properly. This information also prepares them for possible future communications from your potential employers.
Finally, send in a thank you note at the end to appreciate them for their help. This is another clever way of ensuring they have all your current contact information. After all, building great connections never ends!
At FSS Staffing, we are all about making the recruitment process seamless for job seekers. From providing excellent resume services to helping you shine in your interviews and more useful resources for candidates.