According to a recent study on Monster over 39% of hiring managers and recruiting firms to check references before hiring anyone. This survey by CareerBuilder also revealed that nearly 70% of employers have changed their hiring decision because of a reference. In addition, one-third of that seventy percent said their opinion about the candidate improved after speaking with a reference.
While having a great reference doesn’t guarantee an offer, not having a viable reference can be the cause of not getting the offer you want.
Here are our top 5 recommendations for professional references below:
Always notify your professional references before you offer them as a reference.
The best references are not only aware that they will be getting a call and are aware that a specific person will be calling about your skills and experience e in a specific area. When you ask someone to provide a reference – give them an idea of the details you’d like them to focus on during the call. Help them to be prepared for the call they will receive.
Prepare to provide at least 3 references.
Select the top three people from your professional experience to provide a reference. Ideally, these will be your prior leaders, peers, direct reports and professional influencers who can speak to your achievement in the industry of the company.
Pro-Tip: If you’re a recent college graduate and don’t have adequate professional references, go for faculty members, academic advisors or the like. You can provide supervisors from your college-level jobs as well.
Match your references to the job requirements.
When you begin thinking about choosing references, ask yourself which of your references can provide the most compelling evidence that you have the background and knowledge to excel in the job you’re applying for.
Tip: We understand that sometimes a candidate will be entering a new field – in which case prep your professional references to speak to work characteristics that could translate in a new field!
Internal references have both a good & bad impact on hiring.
It is often assumed that having an internal reference for a company you are applying for is a good thing, and usually, it is. Be sure to offer up only those internal people who know you well enough to provide concrete professional information about you. If you aren’t sure – ask them what they will say about you if they are approached by an internal hiring manager.
Ask your references to let you know when they have completed the call.
They may offer meaningful insight into what is important in the hiring manager’s mind, and if there is anything you feel you need to clarify, this gives you the ability to focus your final thoughts on their hot points.
Offer your thanks for the reference, feeling comfortable that you have been well represented.
Be selective about who you ask to be a reference, ask them to target their comments to the aspects of your background that you want a future employer to know about you and your successes and capabilities and don’t overuse their goodwill. Finally, always offer to reciprocate.