If you’re in the job interview process and have been asked to provide references, congratulations! You’re one step closer to landing the job. But while some think of references as a formality, your references can make or break your chances of success—particularly if the company is using them to compare equally-qualified candidates. Regardless of what your competition looks like, it’s a good idea to have solid references lined up, as a stellar endorsement could also strengthen your bargaining power when it comes to negotiating an offer. Follow these best practices for choosing solid references—and making sure they provide the best recommendation possible.Who to ask
To begin with, it’s important to line up references who can speak to different aspects of your experience, skill set, and personality. One goal of reference checking is to validate that what you’ve said is true, so only providing the hiring manager with references from a single employer or experience won’t necessarily provide them with the holistic view they’re in search of. Shoot for references from these three sources:
The job isn’t finished once your references have said ‘yes.’ Next, you should send them an updated version of your CV, as well as a summary of any key projects you worked on together as a refresher of your skills and accomplishments.
Once a company asks for your references, send over the job description as well as any qualities or skills you’d like your reference to highlight in the conversation. It can be easy for references to give a general positive reference without going into details, but to really make your profile stand out you’ll want to set them up with the tools for success.Following up
Lastly, be sure to follow up with each reference, for each role they refer you for. Whether or not you secure an offer or take the job, it’s good practice to thank them for their reference and let them know the outcome. If you don’t get the job or decide it’s not the right fit, you might need to call on your references again—and will want them to reflect positively on their interactions with you, both past and present.