Keep in Touch with Your References

by Tiffany Newton, Head Editor, INALJ Missouri 

Keep in Touch with Your References 

TiffanyNewtonOne of the most important parts of getting a job is your references. Usually prospective employers will wait until after the interview to call your references, but occasionally, they will call before.

I just spoke with one of my references, Keith, and the hiring manager mentioned a few things to him that could hinder my chances of getting the job. The hiring manager thought I was young, and inexperienced, but that they wanted someone who could stay with them long-term. Immediately, my reference called me to tell me the concerns that I could address in the interview and gave me possible solutions to the problems, including networking and professional development. Keith also said the hiring manager and mentioned my other references she had spoken to before him. They were not giving me very good references. In this situation, it’s best to give them a call or visit and to explain why I’m applying for jobs in which I’m fairly inexperienced and to explain my career goals to them so they know what I’m trying to do when they get these calls for jobs in which they think I’m not experienced for.

It’s also good to check with references occasionally to make sure they’re still willing to be a reference, and that they will continue to be a good reference for you. If your career plans change, or you begin applying for different jobs, let them know. Your references are there to help you, but can only do so If you stay in touch with them. Giving each reference an updated copy of your resume can also help them vouch for your skills. This way they know what you saying in your application and can help reaffirm this.  Don’t be afraid to take people who you feel might be giving you bad references off your list.

It might also be a good idea to send them a quick email or phone call when you give their name to a hiring manager. This way they can be prepared when the search committee calls them.

Also, when you get a job, send thank you letters to all of your references, expressing your gratitude and sharing the good news with them. It might even be a good idea to include a gift card for their favorite restaurant, free game of golf at their local course, etc.

  5 comments for “Keep in Touch with Your References

  1. Daisy
    November 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    “Keith also said the hiring manager and mentioned my other references she had spoken to before him. They were not giving me very good references.”

    Why would a hiring manager discuss with one reference the conversations that the hiring manager is having with other references?

    • Illinois to Missouri editors
      November 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      I don’t know Daisy, but knowing Keith, he gets everyone talking about everything. So he might have drawn it out of them. Or the hiring manager might have just asked about the concerns she was having after talking to the first reference. Something like “This person said that Tiffany does this….. Is that true in your experience?” or “I was just talking with…and they were concerned about this… how do you feel on this?” – Tiffany

  2. Keith
    November 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Nice comments Tiffany! It is always a great idea to check with your references and see what they are going to say. The questions you ask them will determine if you want to use them. Identify “helpers” and not people who seem isolated from the profession.

  3. Maria
    November 6, 2013 at 10:49 am

    One thing I do whenever I apply for a job that asks for contact information of references is email a copy of my resume/CV, cover letter and a copy of the position description to my references so that they are aware that they might be contacted but also so they can see the materials I’ve submitted and the nature of the position for which I’m applying.

    • Illinois to Missouri editors
      November 7, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Yes, that is a good idea too, but I hate to spam my references with all that information! Sometimes I have applied for 2 or 3 jobs a day for a week straight. I do occasionally send my references emails and tell them I have been applying for jobs at these places for this positions, and talk to them a bit about it so they aren’t completely unaware when they are called. – Tiffany

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