Think about the ability of a job applicant to prepare for an interview, today’s job seekers are experts in selling themselves, they turn to the internet to become better interviewees. They even have services to write cover letters and CV’s for them. They use lists of interview questions to help them prepare their answers ahead of time. Applicants can be more prepared than ever, because of all the online help and advice from other sources such as recruiters.
While all the resources may be a help for jobseekers, it makes hiring much more difficult for the hiring manager. When every single candidate looks like the cream of the crop, how do employers choose?
Getting a reference on a candidate gives the prospective employer a better understanding of the candidate from an experience, attitude and behavioural point of view. A reference is the only way to validate the information shared by the candidate in their CV and interview.
References if done well, can be a powerful tool for hiring managers, BUT what does this mean for applicants and what advice can we give them? References could be a blessing or not!
Candidates need to nurture their references, don’t just hand over some names and email addresses of previous managers. Stay in contact with your references and keep them updated on your career progression or just to inform them that you are in the job market and have been actively applying and they should expect someone to call them to do a reference. Ensure they are still happy to provide a reference on you and of course essential that you have a sense they will provide a good and positive reference on you.
A referee should only be the person you reported directly to, not a colleague you worked closely with or other staff members you were friendly with. For this reason it is important to ensure your manager thinks highly of you from a performance perspective and how you behaved during your resignation and notice period as this is often the period most remembered.
Candidates need good references, because employers want to see proof of a candidate’s potential value to their company. References can only be good references if candidates build and maintain strong relationships with them. That way references can provide clear and specific examples of a candidate’s strengths, rather than generic praise.
When providing reference details on your CV, this should include, company name, designation of the referee you reported directly to and contact number, ideally both the office number and cell phone number. This is why it is important to stay in contact with your references so that when their contact details are updated you will be aware.
References could make or break your job search! Don’t burn your bridges, you never know when a potential employer may be contacting your previous employers.
The importance of solid references can’t be more important.