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Job Search Tips: Choosing the Right Career References

Looking for a new job can be an exciting time, but it can also pose certain concerns. For example, one question that comes up often is “Who should I use as a job reference?” Understanding why professional career references are requested and what this can mean to your job search is a good place to start answering this question.

Why are job references requested by recruiters?

In a perfect world, recruiters would be able to accept at face value every piece of information provided by candidates. However, candidates often stretch the truth a little on resumes and say what they think the recruiter wants to hear during interviews. This is the nature of the game. Therefore, it helps recruiters to choose the right candidate to move forward with when they can confirm this information with a third-party source. This is where your references come in. These are the people who (hopefully) will say some positive things about you and back up your claims.

How to Choose the Best Job References

Now that you have a little more insight into why recruiters ask for job references, it’s up to you to select the right people for this part of the process. Here are a few quick tips for choosing the best job references:

What position does the reference hold?

Before listing a reference, consider how much credibility the person may have. For example, is the person a business owner, a college instructor, or another professional? This is often a good option to put on your reference list because it shows you know well-respected people.

How well does the reference know about your work performance?

Be sure that the job references you provide are people who have directly observed your work performance or your achievements in some way. Oftentimes, recruiters will try to probe deeper into the ability of a candidate to perform in the new role, so this information is vital.

Does the reference respond promptly?

A job reference is only worth listing if he or she will respond quickly to a request. Try calling your references and making sure you have up to date contact information including a phone number where they may be reached during the work day.

Have you talked with the reference in a while?

If you are hoping to use a reference and it’s been a few years since you worked with someone, you may want to reach out to them personally and let them know first. The best references are those who know you well and who have worked with you in the last 1-3 years. Prep your reference about the skills or character traits you want them to mention about you.

Looking for additional support finding your next career opportunity?

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