19 October 2015
Now that your job search is in full swing, deciding on who your professional references should be is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not only is it important to know how to effectively manage your references, but it’s equally advantageous to understand how to use them based on the type of job you’re interested in. Utilizing the right professionals that can provide strong references will give a hiring manager a clearer picture of the type of professional you are. Therefore, take into account how the right references can impact your job prospects. To ensure you’re making the best use of your references, consider using a combination of these 5 connections: Managers A former manager can be the best reference to provide prospective employers with a snapshot of your professional capabilities. As a result, it can be helpful to keep in touch with past managers you’ve had positive working relations with throughout your career. They should be most acquainted with your work, and can emphasize the strengths you possess that are related to the position you are applying for. For example, if you learned to use specific programs, or played a key role in large scale projects, they will be able to speak to your ability to add value to an organization and take initiative. However, think twice about relying on your current supervisor as a reference for a new job; as it can jeopardize your current position and/or your job prospects. Colleagues Another good connection to have as a reference is a colleague that you’ve previously worked with. Why? Since these people have worked with you on a day-to-day basis, colleagues can be very knowledgeable about your interpersonal skills, and why they make you an ideal candidate for the position. Collaborating on different projects, eating lunch often together, or dealing with challenging situations are the types of examples that will speak to your personality and your ability to thrive in a team environment. Keep in mind, if you want to keep your job search private, you should consider using a colleague from a past employer, or someone that has already left your current company. Mentors A professional mentor is not only someone who can provide career guidance, but who can also be used as a great reference throughout your career—especially in regards to commenting on your overall progression. For example, if your mentor was your manager from an internship program that you were enrolled in years ago, they would be able to comment on your professional growth throughout your career. Fellow volunteers One of the best ways to build genuine connections in the professional world is through volunteering. Using these connections as professional references can work to your advantage since it may be easier for them to highlight your commitment to working for a cause and seeing a project through to completion. In addition, collaborating with other people and getting involved with something you’re passionate about are the types of qualities hiring managers look for in prospective candidates. Professors Whether you are a recent graduate, or you’ve maintained a good relationship with certain professors, they can be one of the best connections to use as a reference. A professor that you’ve worked with in and out of the classroom may be the most appropriate reference to speak to your overall character and work ethic. For example, a professor could provide examples of your academic performance, or comment on your ability to deal with difficult material in a mature manner. A professor that can speak to your strengths in the classroom will give a hiring manager a glimpse into how those qualities could translate into the role you’re interested in. As a job seeker, you should think strategically about the people you choose as your professional references since they will describe aspects of your skillset, personality, strengths, or characteristics very differently. The best way to secure great references is to proactively reconnect with them regularly and always ask permission to submit their name as a reference before giving any prospective employer their contact information. Remember, unless it’s widely known that you’re looking to leave your current job, stick with references that are not currently working with you as a colleague or supervisor.