Staffing Issues

The Reference Check
Selecting references is a critical part of job search success, so take time to choose them wisely. Here are a few suggestions on how to identify a good reference, reference etiquette, questions employers may ask a reference and how to set up a reference page for potential employers.

Selecting your references

Strive for a balanced group of people (i.e. a recent/current employer, long-time professional contact, colleague or co-worker). Choose those who know you well and can speak knowledgeably about your professional and personal attributes.

Reference etiquette

  • If you haven’t spoken to a potential reference in a while, pay them a visit. This is your chance to demonstrate that you have grown beyond their expectations.
  • Provide your references with as many details as possible about your current job search. Give them a copy of your resume, explain why you are in a job search and tell them why you would like to use them as a reference.
  • Don’t automatically include references on your resume—give them out when asked.
  • Contact your reference every time you give out their name. Keep them updated on your job search progress. Ask them to contact you each time they are called.
  • When your search is over, send a letter or a card to your references to thank them.

Reference questions

References are used to help determine both the potential of the candidate and whether or not the candidate will fit into the company’s culture. The following are typical questions your references might be asked.

  • How would you describe the applicant’s professional style?
  • What was the applicant’s major contribution to the organization?
  • Why did the applicant leave the company?
  • What are the applicant’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What type of management style would best fit with the applicant’s approach?
  • How would you describe the applicant’s relationship with peers? Supervisors?
  • Given the described position, would you hire/rehire the applicant for the job? If not, why?

Your reference list

Set up your page of references on the same type of paper as your resume. Provide your name, address, phone, email and fax information at the top in the same format and typeface as your resume. Include the following information for each reference:

  • Name
  • Position
  • Company
  • Address
  • Office Phone
  • Relationship
  • Notes, if necessary.

Remember, a good reference can help you land a job, but just the same, a bad reference can hurt your chances. By properly selecting your references, preparing and updating them with your job search and properly presenting them in your reference list, you stand a better chance of landing the job you desire. Happy hunting. IBI