References are very important in your job search, and it’s critical that you take the time to ensure yours reflect you in the best light. The feedback a reference provides can either help you land your new job, or sabotage your chances, so it’s important to take steps to keep your references happy, well informed, and up-to-date.
1. Review your relationships with your former bosses. Have you kept in contact? Are there strong negative feelings between you and your former boss? Prior to interviewing, it’s in your best interest to contact your former supervisor and make amends if need be.
2. Create a supplemental reference list. In addition to your previous bosses, consider who else may be used as a reference. An, advisor, coach, or group leader are a great place to start; those people can speak to your work ethic and attitude.
3. Reach out to your references. Making sure they are willing to provide positive feedback prior to turning in your resume is a vital step. Even if they’ve agreed to provide a reference in the past, it’s best to let references know they may be receiving a call about you.
4. Spend the extra time to double-check that the information you have for your references is accurate. Does it show the correct spelling of their name, current title, and up-to-date contact information?
5. Don’t be too concerned with letters of reference. They’ve become outdated in today’s world; most anyone with a computer can create a document with a letterhead and reference. Focus your energy instead on making sure that references respond appropriately on your behalf when contacted.
Allison & Taylor notes that approximately half of all reference checks they conduct reveal negative input from the references. Don’t neglect your references; an appropriate holiday greeting is always a good idea to help cultivate and maintain professional relationships.