Choosing references for a job interview

Sep 13, 2013

They say it’s all about who you know. When it comes to the references you provide a potential employer, however, it’s all about who knows you. Good references should tell an employer what kind of a worker you are, and how well you’d perform the required duties of the position. Here are some tips for making the most of your references.

Choose colleagues: If you don’t have much work experience, it might be tempting to fill in your reference sheet with friends and family members. Your great aunt might have some glowing things to say about what a nice boy you are, but she doesn’t know much about how you perform at work. If you don’t have much work history, consider someone with whom you’ve volunteered, or your supervisor at an internship.

Ask someone who likes you: Obviously, you shouldn’t ask someone to be a reference for you if you suspect they’d say negative things. This includes bosses. Your reference does not necessarily have to be your supervisor at a particular position, especially if you suspect they may not say positive things. A former coworker may be able to clearly explain your work performance, too.

Keep it recent: You had a wonderful relationship with your college internship advisor, but if that was ten years ago, it may be time to drop it from your reference list.  He may not have the best grasp on what you’re doing now.

Ask permission: Don’t spring a call on someone. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind giving you a reference. It  makes you look professional, helps prepare them, and allows you a chance to make sure their job title, address, phone number, and other information hasn’t changed since you last checked in. The most glowing reviews of your performance won’t mean a thing if the interviewer can’t get in touch with the person ready to give them.
 

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