Choosing Your Allies

References play a major role in your job-hunting campaign

The last line of most resumes reads “References Furnished Upon Request,” but are your references up to par?

“References should be able to provide testimonial to the qualify of your work,” says Anthony Rogers, president of Executive Recruitment and Consulting Inc. in Cleveland. That rules out family members and close friends.

Some employers may request a candidate’s last three performance appraisals in lieu of references, adds Rogers. For others, letters of reference may do, but only from individuals who won’t mind being contacted. Below are some suggestions for getting the most out of your reference pool:

  • Be prepared. Have the names and addresses of three to five references when interviewing. Some employers may want to do advance checks.
  • Be discriminating. Give the names of references only after you are sure you want the job and the job wants you. You don’t want to wear out your welcome with references who are called on too often.
  • Refresh their memories. It doesn’t look good if a prospective employer contacts a reference who displays a case of amnesia. Suggest key points for them to mention.
  • The bigger the better. Potential employers may not contact your former co-workers. Instead, they may ask for your boss. The higher up in rank, the more credible the reference is viewed.
  • New questions. Some references are being asked if the potential job candidate “was moody” or “often angry” to determine if the individual fits their corporate culture. Yet, many references shy away from answering such questions for fear of being sued.
  • Be honest. Many employers conduct background checks. Tell the truth now and avoid the shame and career suicide of being terminated later.
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