How to Get References That Work For You

Posted by Christopher Wallingford On Mar 10, 2015 10:00:00 AM

How to Get References That Work For You

So you have your resume reviewed by the right people, landed an interview and impressed the Hiring Manager enough that he/she is going to check your references.  If you have waited until this “end stage” of your job search to start putting together references, you have definitely waited too long.  At this point, it doesn’t matter if you have spent hours writing, tailoring and rewriting your resume.  You may have seriously jeopardized your chances of closing the deal/receiving the offer.

Who Do You Trust

You need a list of the names and contact information prepared to give the Hiring Manager during your interview.  Start off the process by identifying individuals you feel will speak comfortably about your abilities, experience and accomplishments. These should be people who either directly supervised you or are/were in a position senior to you with whom you worked closely enough so that they can credibly speak to what "you bring to the table".  References must come from people you trust.

Ask Their Permission

Now that you have identified who you want to use for references, it's time to reach out to them to ensure that not only will they agree to provide one, but that they will give a reference that will help you get the job.  Do not email…make the call.  It is best to make a "real" connection with them.  Once they agree, tell them about the position(s) you are applying for so that when they are giving your reference they can describe your skills that speak to the position at hand. 

Most importantly, when you get to the reference stage call the individuals you are using as a reference and let them know that they will be receiving a call.  If they are prepared to receive a call they are much more likely to spend the time to give you an effective reference.  Additionally, if you give them the “heads up”, once they get a voicemail from your prospective employer they will call them back promptly because they know it is important to you.

They Are Recommending You

While you have their attention, take it one step further and ask if they would write you a letter of recommendation.  While many employers do not place much importance on them, particularly since they want to speak with the individual directly so they can ask specific questions, they can add to your credibility as a candidate when you hand them over to your interviewer.  Another option is to ask them to write a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile.  You can bet that the hiring manger has already checked out your profile and read any recommendation(s) that you have.   

Your “Network”

As many of us who have looked for a new job recently have experienced, it is through two viable resources that you are most likely to find success, networking and a respected recruiter.  Whether your networking leads you to a hiring manager at your dream company or a recruiter who is working on your behalf uncovers your dream job, it is imperative you take advantage of your connections.  This applies not only to your LinkedIn network but to any professional organizations, social groups, or educational forums you may be affiliated with.  Most importantly, for these connections to be fruitful, you must maintain them.  Once you make a connection with someone, keep in touch.  A supervisor you had five years ago might not be an effective reference if he/she has no idea what you have been up to since you last worked together.


Hopefully, all your efforts have resulted in you getting an offer but, as we all know, that is not always the case.  Whether you landed the job or not, it is especially important to thank the individuals who served as your references.  You most likely sent a thank you note to your interviewer and you should do the same to the people on your reference list.  The chances are you will need their assistance again in the future.

TAGS: Interview Tips

Subscribe by Email


The Job Seekers Survival Kit

Looking for a job is hard work but JOHNLEONARD can help!
Use our Job Seekers Survival Kit to survive your next Job Search.