Career: Talk To References


As we try to get through these strange times in the world, I am starting to see a bit more career movement in 2021 than I saw for much of 2020. Whether this is companies starting to hire more and get back to work or people getting tired of their routine and looking for new positions, I’m seeing more people changing jobs.

Networking has been a great way for people to find good jobs, but you might not have someone that can help you for any particular job. Instead, you might lead an employer along by giving them references that you pick. While some employers might not ask for them or look at them, you can emphasize their importance and value in your career during any interviews, which might convince someone to call them.

Preparation is Key

In addition to you being ready for an interview, it is helpful to contact your references and help them get prepared.

Give them a call, catch up on life, and be sure to remind them of things you did well or want them to emphasize in any call. Giving them a thing or two to think about puts those thoughts in their mind. When a potential employer calls a reference, they can be distracted or otherwise occupied. The things you’ve talked with them about will cue them to highlight what you want them to say.

There is some good advice in this column, and it’s what I’d do if I needed a new job. It’s also similar to discussions I’ve had when someone has asked me to be their reference. We usually spend 5-10 minutes ensuring that we’re on the same page and I am ready to highlight what’s important to them.

I don’t mis-represent people, but I do want to focus on the things that are helpful to advancing their career. It’s helpful for me to be prepared, as a colleague and friend.

If I don’t feel someone is qualified, I’ll tell them and let them decide if they still want me to be a reference.

Every bit of help you can get in a job search is good. There is a lot of competition out there, so keep working on your network and remember to use it when you are seeking new employment.

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