Employers usually ask for a job reference page (a list of people who can vouch for your skills and qualifications) before they make a hiring choice. That means you need to have a reference page ready so when someone asks for one, you can respond quickly.
While you likely will not know the exact questions a hiring manager plans to ask your references, you can still prepare them for the call. The first thing you should do is tell your references that they are one. While that may seem obvious, it is not always done and the last thing you want to do is have your references be blindsided by the hiring manager's call. Even if you have used certain references in the past, do not just assume they will be available or willing to serve as one again. The best approach? Ask your contacts first before giving their information to the employer.
References are often the last step in the screening process before an employer extends an offer. While every company has a different policy on references, most still ask for them. What a reference says or does not say, can sometimes make the difference between getting an offer or not.
Many employers have instituted formal programs to encourage employees to refer candidates for jobs. It is a way to help ensure they are recruiting top talent for available positions. The assumption is that current employees are uniquely qualified to identify the best candidates since they know the organization's mission and company culture.
A job referral can be the best way to get your resume a close look from the hiring manager. When you are referred for a position and you mention it in your cover letter, you have got a built in recommendation for the job in the first paragraph of your cover letter.
When you provide a list of professional references to an employer, you should include your name at the top of the page. Then list your references, including name, job title, company and contact information, with a space in between each reference. Include at least three professional references, who can attest to your ability to perform the job you are applying for, on your list.
Most employers take a close look at candidates who are referred to them. A referral for a job from a company employee or another connection at the company can help ensure your resume gets a close look.
A prospective employer should ask your permission before contacting your references. This is especially important if you are employed, you do not want to surprise your current employer with a phone call checking your references. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you are not comfortable with your current employer being contacted at the present time. However, do have a list of alternative references available.
Maintaining your reference network with periodic phone calls or notes to get and give updates is important. LinkedIn is an ideal way to keep your network up-to-date online. Have an active network in place because you never know when you might need it.
Let your references know where your job search stands. Tell them who might be calling for a reference. When you get a new job, do not forget to send a thank you note to those who provided you with a reference.