Sunday, March 18, 2012

Your References Need Coaching, Too!

Now that you have been invited back for a third interview and have been asked to provide references, you may want to consider ‘helping’ those who are going to support you in your efforts to finding suitable employment.

In addition to the ‘tombstone references’ that will verify the start and end date that you worked at a certain company and your job title, [most companies will not share any other information because to do so can leave those former employers open to litigation], companies will want to do what they can to help them get a better understanding of who you are and if they would be making the correct decision in hiring you.   

References are like customer referrals. Before a potential employer is going to invite you to join the company, they are going to want to talk to some former co-workers to gain some insight into your work ethic and character.

Step One:       Call your potential references and ask for permission to use their name.

Step Two:       Once your potential references have agreed to stand for you, it is time to start grooming them for success.  Assume that your references only know part of your background.

Step Three:    Provide your references with the job description of the position for which you applied as well as a copy of your résumé.

Step Four:      Provide/fill in/add the details to the parts your résumé that your references may not know about.

Step Five:       List and share, in bullet form, the key selling points and value add with bullet points that you would like your references to speak to when called by potential employers

Step Six:         Supply your references with a list of likely questions that potential employers may ask. Sample questions could include the following:
    • How long have you known the applicant?
    • Describe how the applicant interacts with other people.
    • What do you believe are the applicant's strengths and weaknesses?
    • Can you explain to me the circumstances that led to the applicant leaving the company?
    • Can you give me a general idea of the direction you see their career heading?
    • Is there any other information you can share?
Step Seven:    Provide your references with the contact information of those who will be contacting them on behalf of your potential employer.

Step Eight:     Follow up with your references. ALWAYS thank your promoters for their efforts regardless of if you got the job, or not.  References can be the make-or-break point in the process, so be sure to praise them for saying such wonderful things about you.

HINT: The higher the level of the position for which you are interviewing, the more thoroughly your references will be checked.

HINT: Start collecting reference letters while you are in school, from teachers and/or professors, or, as soon as your leave your first job

Please note that some employers prefer written references that are written on company letterhead, if possible.  The rationale is for the preference is that it is a lot easier to read your reference letters than to personally contact all of your references and it is easier to add them to your employee file.

Furthermore, if you have not been asked to provide references, or, your references were never called, it is not necessarily a bad omen.  Some employers completely forego the reference check as part of the hiring process. They feel that you will only provide written or telephone references that are positive, so they do not believe that this step in the hiring process is useful for gathering unbiased information about you.

Other Housekeeping Information:
·       References should be a separate document and not be included with your resume.  Although you should use the same format and header that is present on your resume to maintain consistency.
·       Provide accurate contact information for each individual you list.  This includes their full name, title, employer, phone number, email address and your relationship with that individual.

 These song lyrics have been posted below, just becuase it's fun.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine Lyrics
-Words and Music by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong

Ooh, I bet you're wond'rin' how I knew
'bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before   ~> With some other boss, you might do more
Between the two of us guys you know I love you more
It took me by surprise I must say
When I found out yesterday
Dontcha know that I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I'm just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh)

I know a man ain't supposed to cry  ~> I know a boss ain’t supposed to cry
But these tears I can't hold inside
Losin' you would end my life you see  ~> Losin’ you is oh so tough you see
'cause you mean that much to me
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else
Instead I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
And I'm just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh)

People say believe half of what you see
Son, and none of what you hear
But I can't help bein' confused
If it's true please tell me dear
Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy you loved before? ~> For another boss that you’ll love more?
Dontcha know I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Baby I heard it through the grapevine
Ooh I'm just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

Honey, honey, I know
That you're lettin' me go
Said I heard it through the grapevine

Heard it through the grapevine

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at