References are usually requested when you’re one of the finalist candidates. These references can make the difference between being hired and coming in second place. You want to guarantee the most favorable outcome. Follow the logic then follow the steps.
Hiring Managers want to know three things in talking with your references:
1. Is your resume information accurate and descriptive of your past achievements and jobs?
2. Do you have the skills and experiences needed for the new position?
3. Would they rehire you if they had a higher-level job?
Using these three questions as a guideline, your task is to:
1. Match each reference to the job description of the open position: Who is in the best position to talk about your skills and experiences paralleling the new job?
2. Make sure you have gotten approval from each reference to be contacted. Some people may not want to be a reference or are hesitant for competitive reasons.
3. Talk to each reference, telling them the name of the company, the title, and job duties for which you are applying
4. Provide them with a verbal “script”, defining what you did for them that matches what the hiring organization is looking for:
a. Actual duties that parallel the new job
b. Performance that may approximate the outcomes required in the new job
c. Examples of a team effort, hopefully one that you provided leadership
d. Awards or acknowledgement of high performance
5. Follow-up with an email, listing what you talked about, so they have a document they can refer to when the call comes in from the reference checker
A common-sense summary:
1. Professional references (past bosses) are better than personal references (your dentist)
2. Higher management may seem more powerful than your immediate past manager, but may not know your hands-on experiences, performance or results.
3. Try to wait before providing reference names as you don’t want to overwhelm your references with phone calls of companies that your really not interested in.
4. If you have a job and your conducting a “quiet” search, wait until the last minute for references
5. Tell your references the key functions of the new job and how your prior work with them ties directly to the work you are seeking.
6. Offer to write up a brief list of talking points and results you achieved that will link to the job you are pursuing. In that way, the information that’s provided become “talking points” and will be more powerful.
7. Once you’re hired, employers will usually contact prior companies to check out your documented compensation, dates of hire and other information. If it doesn’t check out, you could be terminated, so don’t fabricate data that isn’t true.
References can be a golden path to your future, or not. Exploit them to your best advantage.
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