People often spend much time preparing and polishing CVs and cover letters but they forget and can underestimate how important it is to line up right people to be referees. Last year the Society for Human Resource Management found that references are a top three selection technique used to assess candidates. Here are a few things you should consider.

Get permission to use someone as a reference

Before you decide to use someone as a reference, ask whether the person would be comfortable serving as a reference for you. You can prepare them and tell what kind of jobs you are looking for.

Be prepared and stay in touch

Before you come for an interview, you should prepare a list of past and current colleagues who could serve as references for you. The best way is to include in the list your former and current managers, co-workers, and subordinates.

Get in touch with referees whenever an employer has shown interest in calling them. Always remember don’t mention a person as a referee if you are not sure what he or she is going to say.

References from your current company

If the HR Manager asks you to provide references from your current job but you don’t want your company knows the fact that you’re looking for a new job, you have two options. First, you can provide references outside of your company – your clients, advisors or partners. Second, you can provide references once you get a formal job offer.

Try not to use letters of recommendation

Hiring managers don’t like to read letters written in the past to “whom it may concern”. They are interested to speak with a real person who can describe a potential candidate and provide feedback. However, if you think you can lose contact with a really good referee – it’s a good idea to have something than nothing at all and get a signed letter of recommendation.

Be ready to explain negativity

A negative reference might come from a person who gave you a poor performance review or from a manager who fired you. If the new employer asks to call that particular person, be honest and explain why this person will likely give you a negative reference. Also, you can suggest people from the same company who can provide objective feedback.

Don’t forget to thank your references in advance

Some companies check only one reference, some never contact any of them. But remember that these people were ready to help you, and thanking them is simply a common courtesy.

Please note, at Hard Hat Recruits we serve our clients by ensuring they have two reference checks for the preferred candidate – it’s important to start your employment journey well.

Please register with Hard Hat Recruits for job opportunities. We look forward to working with you.