How to Prepare Your References

How to Prepare Your References

As part of your resume preparation, you will need to line up some references. These references will need to be someone you know well, preferably an ex-colleague or former boss. They will vouch for your work and character which can help you land your next job.

When it's time to collect your references, you may need to reintroduce yourself and prepare them to answer some questions about you. In this article, we will take a look at what references can do for you and how you should contact them. We will then move on to learning how to prepare them for talking to a prospective employer that is looking to hire you.

What Can References Do?

As mentioned in the introduction, references will vouch for your work and character. Rather than only you speaking about your time in a previous role, you can have someone close to you at the time speak about it for you. A good reference can give your version of your work history credibility.

References don't just help you talk to a recruiter, but they also can assist you in remembering your history. It's easy to forget some details about previous roles, so it can be useful to talk to your references to bring up old memories. A different perspective can also support your resume preparation by helping you prioritize the experiences and skills learned during your employment period.

How Should You Contact Your References

Before you contact your references, you need to decide who your references will be. Most people will typically choose an old boss or a former co-worker to be their reference. Depending on the role, however, you can also choose to have a teacher, a customer, or anyone else you deem worthy to be a reference for you.

You should reach out to your references with a phone call, an email, or a message on social media. Start with the niceties and have a brief catch-up. Once this is over, you can let them know that you need their help with your job search.

Ask them if they can recall anything about the good old times you had together. See if there are any experiences or stories that you missed and ask them what their opinion of you as a worker is. If they are happy to talk to you up to this point, it's time to ask them to be one of your references.

There's no guarantee that they'll say yes, of course, but successfully navigating through the above steps should most likely lead them to say yes. Once they are on board, offer to help them come up with some suggested text that they can use to reference. Some may want to do it themselves and that's okay, but if they want your assistance then it's time to fully prepare them.

How to Prepare Your References

Although offering to write your own reference for someone else seems unseemly at first, it is actually very common practice. Writing your own reference ensures that the message is on target. As well as this, it reduces the work required from the reference.

To give them guidance, you can write a reference letter. This reference letter should only include relevant information about you and your role in a previous position. Here is a loose guide that you can use for a reference letter:

  • Dear xxxx
  • Establish credibility by stating who you are recommending
  • Describe the context in which you know them
  • Mention a key event that illuminates their strength
  • Praise the person you are referring by mentioning their character and skills
  • Express willingness to help reach the right decision
  • Express confidence in the recommendation
  • Yours sincerely

This guide should cover everything about you that your reference needs to mention. Before this letter is written, it is vital to inform your reference what kind of job you are searching for. This will give them the opportunity to tailor their responses toward the job that you're applying to.

Once the reference letter is written, your reference can refer back to it if they need to vouch for you in a different format. This is particularly useful if your reference receives a phone call from a hiring manager. The more you prepare your reference, the more effective their responses about you will be.

Keep Your References Up to Date

Now that you have prepared your references, you will need to keep them in the loop. Check in with them once or twice a year to see how they are doing and if they're still happy to be your reference. You should also update them about your employment circumstances so they know whether they can expect contact if you're currently searching for a job.

Value your references as they can help make the difference in convincing a recruiter to give you the job. Help them out where you can and save copies of the reference letter that was written. Do all of this effectively and you'll have someone in your network that you can put your full trust in.

Written by Career Specialist Jan 31, 2023
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