Are Your Referees Supporting You?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 by: Sonja Breddels

You put a lot of time and effort into finding the right job, preparing a killer resume and polishing your interview skills. Wouldn’t it be sad to go to all that trouble, only to be let down by your referee?

Too often references are just regarded as an afterthought – something that will add to what you’ve said during your interview. In reality, what your referee has to say is just as vital as every other piece of the job application process.

Here are some tips for getting the most from your referees.

  1. Choose the right referee.

Usually potential employers will want to speak with a manager or supervisor. Don’t choose a referee just because he or she has a high profile in the industry. It’s essential that you choose a referee who actually knows how you work and can comment on your skills and your attitude to your role. They need to be both convincing and truthful. It also helps to choose a person you are comfortable in approaching and briefing about the potential new job.

  1. Prepare your referee.

What can you expect your referee to say if he or she doesn’t know that you’ve applied for a new position? And to make it worse, how can someone say you’ll be great for the role if they don’t know what the role is? As soon as you apply for the new position, contact your referee.

An article on CBS News Money Watch makes a great point, saying “You don’t just want the reference to recommend you; you want him or her to recommend you for this job.” Supply your referee with the job description and a copy of your application, and show them where you can see a clear match between you with your special skills and work experience, and the requirements of this role.

Don’t expect your referee to remember everything you’ve done. If you can see a clear parallel between the requirements of the new position and your previous experience or your unique skill set, make some notes. The more information you give your referee, the better support he or she can be to you.

  1. Follow up.

It’s important to follow up with your referee to see how their part of the process went. Did they have all the information they needed? Were they able to answer all the questions in your favour? Was there something more they might have needed from you?  This gives you time to start ‘filling in the blanks’ for your referee so that he or she is fully prepared next time.  (And there’s always a next time!)

By following these steps, you are making it easier for your referee to help you win the job. You are ensuring that your references give solid and watertight evidence to support your claim to the position.

Take your time to analyse the selection criteria when you prepare your application, and remember to share your thoughts with your referee. If you would like some professional assistance to work through the selection criteria, consult the experienced Career Consultants at Resumes for Results.

If you would like to know more about the author Sonja Breddels [click here].