Choosing the Right Job References
When applying for a job, it is important to give a list of references to prospective employers. You may not probably realize it, but providing the right references can actually make a difference in your job application. This can make or break your chances of getting employed.
It is not advisable to write “references available upon request.” As a rule, always put your references in your job application. If the recruitment officer is interested in hiring you, there is a high chance that your references will be contacted to attest to your skills or personality.
The best references would be your former employers who can certainly vouch or guarantee your capabilities based on your previous work. They will surely give the strongest recommendations for you—if you departed on good terms.
In case of the new graduates, you may give the names of your former teachers, or program advisers. I also recommend using as references your former bosses during your internship or OJT exposure.
Avoid using as references your father, mother, brother, sister. This is ridiculous and the recruitment officer might just think you are dumb. They are not credible, and for sure they will not be contacted!
Provide three to six references, and make sure you give details like how they came to know you, their position and how long they knew you. The vital key here is to carefully select people who are willing to support you.
Here are tips on how to create a good reference list:
• Ask for permission. Do not surprise your references! Do not just include people’s names, especially if they are mere acquaintances. It would be uncomfortable for them to speak on your behalf, if they do not know you. How would you feel if you were asked to comment on a person you have not even heard of?
• Get accurate information. Make sure you ask your references to give you their current job titles, addresses, company names, contact numbers, and the best time of the day that they can be contacted. One of the pet peeves of hiring officers is getting provided with wrong contact details. So do your research.
• Ask for written testimonials, if possible. Ask your references to write a short letter confirming your abilities, and how you can be an asset to the company.
• Coach your references. Tell them what position you are currently applying for, and who are the persons who are likely to call them. Brief them on what to say during their conversation with your potential employer. Give them also a copy of your résumé so they can browse through it while being interviewed by the hiring officer. Prepare a script, so that when they are asked why you left your previous job, they can say something positive.
• Give thanks. Always acknowledge your references for allowing you to put their names in your résumé. If you were hired, you may send an appreciation letter.
As part of your job search, you may be busy polishing your bio data, scouring the newspapers for want ads, or preparing how to answer in job interviews. However, I strongly suggest that you take time also to get good and credible references that would work for you.
Employers are highly selective. It is certain that they will contact at least two or three of your references. If your references are good, it can help them arrive at a good decision as regards your employment. Likewise, providing bad references may earn you a bad reputation, not to mention that it may cost you not to get a good job offer. The secret is to get references who will say only, but only positive things about you.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.
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