Tuesday, November 20, 2012

References: Who to use and who to avoid

Submitting References

If you are looking for a new job, most times they will ask for references. This can be a difficult decision as you may be unsure of what they will ask, and what your reference will say. Of course you could ask friends and/or family, but the employer will ask their relationship to you, so it may be a bit suspicious if your reference has never worked with you, and what mother/wife/husband/best friend would say anything bad about you?

The key for references is two pronged: A positive opinion of you, and has experience working with you while appearing impartial. Personal references, those who haven't worked with you can be useful though, if you haven't had experience, or are still in or just coming out of university. These personal references can include professors, people you have volunteered with, etc.

Writing the Letter

Sometimes your reference will be busy, or feel that you are a great worker/individual and will say, "Write the letter and I'll sign it for you." I have had this happen before, and believe me it can be as troubling as finding a reference to begin with. What will they agree to saying? What if you exagerate accidentally? Take a breath... it'll be ok!

Just write about your experience with the reference, the projects you've worked on, how long you've worked together, and include the phrase: "I am happy to recommend [insert your name] for this position." This not only allows the reference to not be committed to your opinion beyond what they would want to say, but also sounds genuine, which is key in references.

Lastly, when you provide the letter for signing, or ask for a letter of reference, provide the envelope with postage (if you are mailing the letter) and ask them to signature seal it. This is when they sign their name over the seal of the envelope, which will show that the letter is not only professional, but also that you are not aware of what they wrote.

Resumè versus Reference

References will play a key part in your job search. Even when you are looking to move up in a company or transfer to another division or role, references will be key. Not only will they reinforce your background and education, but they will set you apart from those who have similar or better experience. All too often in the job market, some individuals try to lie on their experiences. This is not common, but it happens enough that employers will double check. Having strong references will speak loudly to your integrity, and many times will seal the deal for your work. The job market is competitive everywhere, set yourself apart!

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