Thursday, March 12, 2009

Marketing Yourself: Your References

One of the most important things you can do during a job search is have an organized set of references. Companies today are doing even due diligence than ever on their new hires - so here are few tips for your references:

1. Ask people to do references for you on LinkedIn - they are endorsing you for all the world to see and you want that visible since prospective employers are connecting on LinkedIn. Be sure to get references on Linked In from peeers, your manager (past and present), subordinates, customers, colleagues from volunteer organizations, etc. You can also make the decision not to post a reference or ask people to edit them so you are assured of supporting the image you want to convey.
2. When you are walking into a job interview it's good to carry in a nicely designed reference list. Be sure to include their name, their past relationship to you -i.e. My supervisor at Company X, my customer at company Y, their phone number(s) - office and cell, and their email address.
3. Be sure to ask people in advance if they'll agree to be a reference. Be sure to make surethey are comfortable doing so and that they'll make themselves available to do the reference. And include them in your job search - people who know and like your work are more likely to hire you again.
4. Be courteous to your references after the interview - let them know that they will be called, and be sure to send them your current resume and a copy of the job description and why you think you are a good fit for the job. It doesn't hurt to give them speaking points - i.e. remember how I did project y and we increased revenue? Be sure to let them know about that. I had a friend who asked for a reference and for the life of me - ten years later - I couldn't remember a thing that we'd done together. I asked him to tell me what to say and what the job was - nothing. Not my shining moment as a reference.
5. Do not give out your reference's home number. I had someone call me for a reference at 8 am at home on a vacation day - I was not a happy camper.

And if you are the one giving a reference - Only give references to people you believe in. . It is your reputation when you give someone a reference - if you can't say something honestly - don't say it. If you don't know something about someone - don't say they can do it, just say you don't know .

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