When it’s time to provide references, match each reference to the specific job. Prepare “talking points” for each reference that matches your past experiences with what the hiring manager is looking for. In other words, tailor design a references response to the needs of the job to be filled.
There are two kinds of references: professional and personal. Professional references are related to your work experiences and past employers. They usually come from bosses or a higher authority within the work environment: The higher the level, the higher the value that others ascribe to it.
Always check to make sure the reference is willing and able to give you a good reference. Don’t put a professional in the awkward position of a surprise telephone call without their knowledge from a potential employer asking about you. You may not like the response.
Personal references are only used if you have no professional references. Personal references are not work related and have little value to a potential employer. All a personal reference can say in so many words is, “This is a nice person”. An exception is if the hiring manager knows the reference giver. Then it might have some weight to it.
If you are conducting an open search that everyone knows about, then references can be provided at almost any time. Just be careful that multiple companies aren’t contacting your references at the same time. It could prove confusing and awkward.
If you’re conducting a quiet search, however, wait until the final interview to provide references. References can provide substance to your past experiences and should match the function for which you are applying.
Tell the reference giver what you’re interviewing for and why so they have some background. Provide them with the key functions of the new job and how your prior work with them ties directly to the work you are seeking. Suggest that they may want to use that information as an example when contacted. Offer to write up a brief list of talking points and results you achieved that will help them link with the job you are pursuing. In that way, the information that’s provided will be more powerful. This kind of information can advance your candidacy if it’s done the right way by the right person.
When hired, employers will usually contact prior companies to check out your documented compensation, date of hire, separation and any other information they can get. So don’t fabricate information on your resume or interviews. Some companies will Google your name on the web or go into your social media sites to see what’s there. Be forewarned. I have known people who have misled future employers only to find themselves without a job.
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