Career Advice  

5 Tips on Gathering & Preparing Great References

5 Tips on Gathering & Preparing Great References

References are a powerful tool in your job search. You can say good things about yourself in your CV or resume, but positive statements from someone else have a greater impact. Once you have successfully made it through the initial phases of your job search and interview process, you will most likely be asked for a list of references.

Care should be taken in choosing these references. It is smart to gather a large pool of references before you start your job search. Then you can pick and choose the best ones for the potential employer.

Here are 5 tips to help you select the best references and prepare them for the hiring manager’s call:

1. Where possible, use references that can speak to the type of industry or job you are applying for.

It is much more valuable for you to use people that have a working knowledge of the industry you are applying to. It will make it easier for them to speak to the benefits you can offer the employer.

2. Do not include anyone you had “issues” with.

Did you and a former boss have a difficult working relationship? Do not include them as a reference. One negative word can do more damage to your success at landing the job than one less reference on the list.

3. Ask previous coworkers.

It is assumed that you will include your past bosses on a list of references, but you do not have to stop there. You can also include coworkers and other people you have worked with – even if it was in a semi-professional capacity. Volunteer groups or community organizations count! Avoid using a friend as a reference. If you do, be certain they can speak directly to your work qualifications.

4. Ask before you use them and know what they are going to say.

Make sure you ask people before you add them to your reference list. And if you are including them on a list for a specific job, tell them so they are not caught off-guard when the hiring manager calls them. It is also a good idea to know what they are going to say about you. One way to easily do this is to ask them to create a written, positive recommendation about you. LinkedIn recommendations are a great tool to use for this. You can also write a positive recommendation on LinkedIn for them in return.

5. Use high impact references.

If you have any internal contacts with the company you are applying for, use them if they are willing and you have had a positive relationship with them. If you do not know them very well or have much work history with them, add them as a supplemental source (with three other strong references) and ask if they will submit a brief statement of what they know about you and your skills.

The interview and hiring process involves a lot of work, so choosing and preparing great references is crucial. And it can be done differently in various global regions. Your best source for knowing what to do in your new city is to consult your IMPACT Group Career Coach. They will be able to tell you what is normally done regarding submitting references in a new country, such as the number of references typically given, when to list them, and what information to share about them. Use your coach’s expertise to help you gain success in landing the job!


Contribution by Jill Jassmann-Sharlock.

Jill is an IMPACT Group Global Research and Projects Team Lead who focuses on the unique information needs of global transferees. She also serves as IMPACT Group’s Global myIMPACT Specialist, managing content for our global job search and career portal.

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