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By: Kirsi Donovan, CTS | Human Resources/Recruiting Assistant

In the spirit of candidate advice week, I would like to share one of my absolute “musts” for a candidate to do before fully committing themselves to the job seeking process: your references! If I had a dollar for every time I’ve asked candidates “What will your references say about you when I call them?” I’d be writing this blog from my Vineyard in the South of France! Really though, the responses have been all over the map since I began interviewing candidates over five years ago. Popular responses like:

Hopefully they will say good things about me” or “Well, I haven’t really spoken with them in a while, they may not remember me” or my favorite one “He/she better say good things, he/she is my mother-in-law/cousin/boyfriend’s mom, etc!”

Believe me, when it comes down to it, references can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate for a position. Don’t let this happen to you! Here are a few tips to remember:

– First and foremost, make a list and establish at least three professional references for yourself. If you are unsure who to ask, think of colleagues who know you on a professional level. Therefore they know your work ethic, skills, performance, strengths, success stories, etc. Maybe a former manager, colleague, co-worker or depending on your job seeker level, a professor, internship leader or mentor could be some great options for you.

-Go with your gut! If you are unsure if you should use someone as a reference (how well do I know them? Do they REALLY know me? What will they say about me?) or if you do not want to put them in an awkward position, think of an alternate choice.

-Always, always ask them first for their permission to use them as a professional reference. Therefore they are not caught off guard if/when they receive a call or an email from the Human Resources Manager at XYZ Company asking about you and they were unaware that you have listed them as a reference.  Avoid the “Oh I just used you as reference the other day, hope you don’t mind” statement!

-Accuracy and attention to detail is key! Confirm the spelling of their name, title, email address, phone number and whether it is appropriate for them to be called at work or at home. List accurately on your resume and application!

– Keep in touch with your references. Let them know about that great interview you had last week with the Human Resources Manager at XYZ Company, whom could be giving them a call for a reference anytime this week. Give them the name of the person that could be calling and what you interviewed for that way the conversation between your reference and the HR Manager will commence smoothly.

-Follow up with, you guessed it……a thank you note to your reference(s) for taking their time to show their support for you and their time to speak highly of you to your potential employer.

Set yourself apart from the rest!! Best of luck to the job seekers out there, keep your heads up and hope you will use these tips and many more from our blogs!

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