People often list references as quickly and thoughtlessly as if they’re filling in their birth date or contact numbers. They don’t, however, bother to find out what their references will say about them. You might be surprised what some references say about their former coworkers or students. It can be pretty scary.
Here are four ways to improve your references:
- Alert your references to positions you’re applying for, so they will be prepared for phone calls or e-mails from prospective employers.
- Ask your references what they might say about you. This direct line of questioning will force them to tip their hands. You may find that one can’t really serve as a strong reference. That’s bad news, but good information to know, so that you don’t jeopardize this and future applications. And if they are a strong reference, you’ll give them an opportunity to rehearse what they might say.
- Provide your references with some talking points (stories & accomplishments). Subtly remind them about what you did for them and what you’ve been doing recently.
- Ask if they would be willing to give you a LinkedIn reference as well. When someone gives you a public recommendation, they are more likely to stay consistent with that testimonial later.
If you do these four things, you won’t have to worry about your references saying scary things about you!