Who Should You Ask for Professional Recommendations?

Posted: July, 24, 2013 | Categories: Resume Tips

Professional References & Recommendations for a Resume or Interview

One of the best ways to increase your chances of being hired when looking for a new job is to have good references to give to your prospective employer in case you're asked to provide some. The best references you could provide for a potential employer are those coming from individuals who've worked closely with you for some time, as they're able to effectively describe your skills, experience and accomplishments. Here are a few suggestions for helping you decide who to ask for these important references.

Make a List of People Who Have Positive Things to Say

A good starting point would be to jot down the names of those people who would have something positive to say about you, your skills and experience. Focus on including recent and former employers, managers, co-workers and colleagues. If you are new to the workforce, consider past teachers, group leaders, coaches or community leaders. In the end, try to come up with about six or seven people have supervised you at a job, school, or when volunteering or who have worked very closely with you on projects.

Next, determine if each person on your list can provide the right type of information to a potential employer that shows you have a skill set that matches the job you're applying for. Also make sure that the references you choose are people that you have worked with fairly recently. This is important because employers are always most interested in getting references from those who have worked with you recently.

It's important that the person you choose to use as a reference is a good communicator. It's also essential that the person can provide a potential employer with a positive description of you and what you're capable of.

Narrow Down that List

Now it's time to choose the best people you've been thinking of asking for references based on your answers to the considerations posed above. Keep in mind that a past employer may be asked why you left the position. This means you shouldn't ask for a reference from someone if you left that job for a questionable reason. For example, it wouldn't be wise to provide a reference from a past employer who will inform a prospective employer that you left because you were no longer interested in fulfilling the job role or that you left due to some type of controversy you were involved in.

Most employers expect a list of about three references so decide which three people you feel can provide the most positive references. Of course, you have to get their permission to use them as references so ask kindly as these people will be doing you a favor. It would prove helpful to each of your references if you'd give them a summary of your skills and accomplishments and of the work you did for them. Tell each reference what position you're applying for and the skills required for the job. It would be helpful to your references if you'd send them a copy of the job posting.

Remember to Thank Your References

Each person you ask is doing you a favor by helping you land a new job. Regardless of whether you get the job or not, it's important to thank them each time they help you out. The most appropriate way to do this is to send them a thank-you letter.

By JoAnne Williams
Founder, President and CEO

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