Crafting an Outstanding Reference List

Because it can be extremely challenging to find a new position in the current economy, you need to maximize your every advantage. One tool that job seekers often overlook is the reference list. Being able to put hiring managers in touch with several professionals who can speak about your strengths, work ethic and qualifications can mean the difference between landing a position and remaining on the job hunt.

When our company surveyed executives about the most unusual reference checks they had conducted, the responses were less than favorable:

  • “We talked to someone who said the applicant didn’t like the industry in which she was trying to get a job.”
  • “We learned from the reference that the woman we were interviewing liked to go barefoot all day.”
  • “The reference said the prospective employee had difficulty getting to work on time.”
  • “The reference said the candidate fell asleep during work hours.”

Here are some more reference list mistakes, as well as lessons you can learn from each.

Reference list mistake: “I checked the reference, and the fellow just started laughing. He could not believe that he was a reference.”

Lesson: Contact your references ahead of time.

Your first step should be to contact the individuals you’d like prospective employers to reach out to. Your primary goal is to make sure they are willing to speak on your behalf. Keep in mind some people may be uncomfortable with the assignment or feel they are unprepared to…


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