Obviously a referee is a ‘trusted 3rd party in your job search. Therefore treat them as a partner – not an afterthought.
Who You Choose
Identify relevant referees as early as possible. Aim for at least 3 referees with 2 spare. Referee’s should be as recent as practical.
A referee should be applicable to the role you’re applying for. If it’s a customer-facing role, you may wish to include a couple of past customers in your pool of referees. Caveat: If you are already in a customer relationship role, be careful. You do not want to upset your existing employers customer relationships by causing angst through your pending exit. This needs to be managed carefully. Avoid asking existing customers.
Ask the referee’s permission before you provide their details.
Let the referee know as early as possible about the role you are interviewing for.
Confirm their availability by phone or e-mail. This not only avoids surprises, but also gives you an opportunity to renew your relationship and brief them on the details of the role. Be aware of any time zone differences. The last thing you need is for your referee to be woken at 2:00am their time!
Remember your referee is the one person that could make or break the opportunity for you. Whilst you do want your referee to speak well of you – you do not want them to unrealistically embellish your capability. This will only create challenges downstream, not only for you – but for your referee too. Ensure you enable them with the facts of the role and your relative capability.
Focus On The Detail
A referee does better when they know what they need to focus on during the reference checking process. Think about the coaching I’ve provided in previous blogs (http://www.careercoaching.co.nz/news) around preparing for your interview, selling your value etc. – well, it’s no different. Focus. In an e-mail – without breaching confidentiality or a conflict of interest, bullet point the objectives and key responsibilities of the role you’re applying for. You may wish to furnish your referee with a copy of your latest CV and if appropriate provide the URL to your Linkedin profile.
Briefing your Recruitment Consultant
Ensure your recruitment consultant is fully briefed on the profile of the referee, their current role and any barriers they may face (e.g. time zones, holidays, difficult times to call etc.). Provide Linkedin URL’s and a summary of your relationship to the referee. This will be checked anyway – but it helps the reference checker to put some context to the referee before they make the call. Make sure your recruitment consultant agrees to let you know before they call your referee. You can then give your referee the ‘heads up’.
Reference checks are time consuming. Show your appreciation by expressing your thanks to the referee in advance. And again, once you know your referee has been contacted, call or e-mail them to thank them for acting as a referee.
Strategic Job Search Partner
Keep in mind that your referees may also be advocates within and outside of your network. They may put some ‘feelers’ out for you. They are definitely an integral part of your job search strategy – so treat them as such!
A special thanks to all you referee’s out there. Job hunters couldn’t do it without you!
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