Do References Matter?

September 10th, 2013

Current résumé writing opinion is that the old ‘references available upon request’ portion of your résumé is passé. Does that mean that in the social media age references are passé also? No.

Forbes quotes a recent SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) survey which indicates: “Eight out of 10 HR executives consistently contact references for professional (89 percent), executive (85 percent), administrative (84 percent), and technical (81 percent) positions…”

The value of references

References are valuable. They offer a potential employer an opportunity to verify your résumé and work experience and give a peek into your work ethic from those who really know you. Like your social media foot print, references are another tool to evaluate job candidates for red flags and discrepancies in character.

In a competitive job market, a good reference can be the determining factor between you or the other ideal candidate landing the job.

How to mine good references

If you are currently employed, do check out your current employer’s reference policy. Fear of litigation limits most companies to only confirming dates of employment and position. Many companies refuse requests for letters of recommendation from departing employees, even those leaving on good terms.

When evaluating references remember that three is considered the ideal number. If you have more references save them for inclusion at the interview, but only if requested. Top references are current and former supervisors, the most current the better. Move on to colleagues who have known you in the workplace. Again, pulling references from your current employment history is best, as well as utilizing employees who have known you the longest. After colleagues consider references such as professors, and personal connections that are relevant to the position you are seeking.

What to look for in a reference includes:

  • A reference who can easily verify your work ethic and history.
  • Someone who is enthusiastic about you.
  • If possible utilize someone who works for or has a connection to the potential employer.

Don’t overlook your professional references on social media sites, especially LinkedIn. Review your contacts and do ask them to recommend you for skills, especially those related to the position you are seeking.

Forbes suggests that you “strategically think about whom to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation. Reengage them before you start to submit job applications anywhere. Share your recent résumé, a sample cover letter, and a prospective job description. Give them a heads-up that they could be contacted because of their LinkedIn recommendation.”

Maintaining your references

Don’t ignore the importance of keeping your reference contact information current.  Keep your references updated on your job search. When you get that new job send notes of appreciation to your references.

Did we mention that you should always ask before you use someone as a reference? And don’t assume someone will give you a glowing reference. Allow them a graceful way to decline.

We at Olympic Staffing Services are here to help. We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.

Leave a Reply