The power of references in the hiring process

posted on October 27, 2021

By Murali Murthy | Canadian Immigrant Magazine | October 20, 2021

How to select, qualify and prepare your references 

So, you have just interviewed for a position and you are having a good feeling. If all goes well, your potential employer will likely request references. The next step is to be ready with a list of few people to verify your strengths, character and qualifications.

Most employers check professional references as a final stage in the hiring process.

Good references can strengthen your position with the prospective employer.  Here’s how to compile your list of references.  Choose the right people from your list. It should  ideally not include friends but those who have some professional connection to you. The person should be able to provide meaningful information about your work performance.

Once you select a few people from your list, contact each one to be sure they’re okay to give you a reference. Inform them of what kind of job you’re seeking. Tell them what kind of skills, strengths, qualities and qualifications your target employers are looking for. Prepare them for a call by sending them a link to your LinkedIn profile and targeted resume (that you had sent in for the specific job posting).

It makes sense to pick the right references for the right job role. Do remember that when it comes to LinkedIn references, the recruiter may sometimes ask questions to your people even without notifying you first.

Consider references from these six areas when making your list.

  1. Recent supervisor

If you have a current or recent employer as a reference, he or she can speak best about your work ethic. If you’ve chosen not to include them in your reference list, be ready with the answer as to why you didn’t include them. For instance, maybe you are currently employed and don’t want your current supervisor to know that you’re looking around.

  1. Co-workers

Use a co-worker who is familiar with your work, understands your job responsibilities and has worked directly with you.

  1. Team members

Team members can make very good references as they can vouch for your specific involvement in a recent project. Make sure you made a fair amount of contribution to the project so you can get a good endorsement from the team member.

  1. Voluntary positions

People you volunteer for can be excellent references. Plus, volunteering can impress the hiring manager! It clearly demonstrates that you have the capability and willingness to go beyond what is expected and you can be relied on to go the extra mile.

  1. Extra-curricular activities

Your ability to stretch yourself beyond the nine to five will always help you in the long run. Any extra-curricular activity illustrates your versatility. And a reference you’ve known for years can let employers know that you are proactive and have a good work ethic.

  1. College/University faculty

You can never go wrong when one of your references includes a college or university professor. If you’re short on references, it’s a good idea to have your teachers or coaches as a reference. They can give a good glimpse into your character along with your credentials and help provide clarity into your merit as an individual.

And lastly, don’t forget to send a thank you note (while an email is good, a handwritten note is even better) to each one of the people you’ve contacted to be on your list. Plus, you can update them on your job search progress, and let them know how much their input  has helped.

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