Spring Clean Your Reference List

Spring_Clean_Reference_List_Feb2014Have you been using the same references for years? If so, what better time than now to spring clean your reference list? Cleaning up your reference list is just as important as updating your resume. Here are some tips to keep in mind when reviewing your reference list.

Maintain a Good Relationship with Your References
When is the last time you talked to your references?  If you’ve listed supervisors you’ve worked for in the past, do you know if they’re still employed at the same company? Touch base with your references and let them know they’re still on your list. If your supervisor is no longer employed with your previous employer, consider deleting him or her off your reference list. Although you should look for senior-level co-workers or leaders, you don’t have to strictly include supervisors in your reference list. Find a co-worker or manager who knows your work ethics and will give you praise.

Always Ask
Don’t forget to ask your references if it’s okay that you continue to use them as a reference. Each time you apply for a job and use references, make sure you give them a heads up and time to prepare. Not only is it polite, it’s practical. Your potential employer could be calling them and they may not pick up if it’s a number they don’t recognize.

Choose Your References Wisely
Your references should be professional colleagues. While family and friends would be great spokespersons to tell of your success and accomplishments, you need to use professionals as references who can speak of your work experience. Having a variety of colleagues that know you from different perspectives will give a diverse and positive statement to your future employer.

Coach Your References
It would be a shame to have worked so hard job searching and getting your resume together only to find out that you didn’t land the job because of a bad reference. Coaching your references will help avoid this. Write an email to your references or give them a phone call reminding them of your job search. Let them know about the job you’re applying for and give them the description so they can be ready to tell about your qualities and skills that fit that specific job. Give them a copy of your current resume so they can speak to your abilities.

What’s been your experience in asking for references? Have you ever had a reference that was the deciding factor in whether you were hired or not? Let us know in the comments section below.

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