Job Seekers: How Do You Ask for References?
As part of your job search, you will be required to provide a list of references to potential employers. It is essential that you know how to handle this process so you can be in control of the message your references are sending about you. You’ll need to find three to five people who will be trusted to provide honest, but positive, feedback. It isn’t as easy as assuming the company will contact your last supervisor. Here are some of the ways you should handle references as you’re interviewing for your next job.
- Your trusted network. The most important part is to insure that individuals who are contacted are part of your trusted network. You want to tap people who are willing to provide constructive feedback and be honest on your behalf. Talk to any former managers with whom you have a good relationship. You can also offer the names of former coworkers who worked with you closely in your previous positions.
- Permission and contact info. Before you provide any information to a potential employer, talk to your references first. Let them know that you’re looking for a new job and ask for permission to provide their name and number to the company. It is courteous to give someone the head’s up before they are contacted so they aren’t surprised by the call. This will also give them to time prepare what they are willing to talk about.
- The right time. Not only is it important to talk to your references before you provide their information to an employer, but it is also important to know when to share that with the hiring manager. It is no longer considered appropriate to list your actual references on your resume. In fact, even “references available upon request” isn’t necessary, as it is always assumed you will provide this information at the correct time of the hiring process. Instead, be prepared to provide your reference information after the first interview.
- Letters of reference. Job seekers also frequently wonder about reference letters. Former managers may provide reference letters that you’ll hold on to for years. But providing copies of these letters isn’t as effective as you think. Most employers will still want to contact the manager to verify the information. When a manager offers you a letter of reference, ask if you can contact them when you are in the process at a new company so they can give permission to be contacted.