When you are looking for employment, it's important to be prepared to provide prospective employers with job references.
Job Reference Selection Tips
It's a good idea to come up with between three and five people to serve as job references when you are looking for a new job. The people you use as job references should be individuals who can discuss your potential as an employee. Prospective employers are not interested in talking to your friends and relatives. They want to speak with people who have insight into how you are likely to perform on the job.
How to Choose References
Be sure to choose people you've made a positive impression on to serve as job references. Former supervisors and co-workers that you had good relationships with can be good choices. If the people at your current place of employment know that you are seeking a new job and are supportive of your efforts, they can also be good choices.
If you recently completed school, you may want to use former teachers as references. It can also be appropriate to choose people you know through professional organizations or civic groups. If you've been involved with any charities or have held other volunteer positions, the people you served on committees with may be good references.
Reference Selection Don'ts
Keep in mind that you should avoid selecting references that could provide employers with information about aspects of your life that shouldn't enter into the decision making process. For example, employers can't make hiring decisions based on religion or race. So, avoid using references from your church, other faith-based organizations, or groups of an ethnic nature that you may belong to.
Get Permission Ahead of Time
Be sure to ask for permission before giving anyone's name as a reference. Let the people you'd like to speak for you know that you're looking for a new job and ask if they'd be comfortable answering questions about your skills from prospective employers. Ask the people who agree to be your job references to provide you with complete contact information, including a daytime telephone number, mailing address, and email address.
Once someone has agreed to serve as your reference, keep in touch with him or her throughout your job search process. If you go on a job interview and get a sense that the interviewer will be checking your references, contact the people on your list to let them know to expect a call soon. Keeping in contact with your references will ensure that they aren't taken by surprise when they get a call about you. You'll also be able to keep up with changes in your references' contact information when you speak with the people on your list regularly.
Keep a list of your references and their contact information with you throughout the time you are seeking employment. It's important to be prepared to provide this information to prospective employers upon request. Expect to be asked for job references every time you apply or interview for a job.
Many companies require applicants to provide complete contact information for several references at the time of initial application. Some require applicants to submit references and a resume to even be considered for an interview. Others request references at the conclusion of an initial or second job interview.
Regardless of when job references are requested during the job search process, it's essential to have the information handy. If you aren't able to provide reference information right away, you won't be seen in the best light with prospective employers.