You’re meeting face to face with the hiring manager at your dream job. You carefully mapped out your skills and accomplishments and meticulously highlighted how your recent experiences perfectly fit with what they’re looking for. At the end of your interview, the hiring manager asks for your references. That’s a positive sign! Before you launch into your happy dance, it’s a good idea to carefully consider the next steps. 

Do your references know that you are sharing their contact information with the hiring manager? Are your references prepared for the potential call from a hiring manager and know about the job opportunity you’re going for? 

Chances are the answer is no. Your references are on your team and in your corner. In order for your references to help you succeed, you need to stay in touch, prep and support them. 

We went to our career strategy coach expert, Maureen McKinnon of McKinnon Executive Coaching to get tips on how you can best support your references.  

Thinking through network

1. Contact and Prep Your References Ahead of Time

Imagine that your reference is in the middle of a hectic work day, answers their phone and is surprised by an unexpected inquiry about you and your skills. They haven’t worked with you in over a year, and it’s been six months since your last email exchange. Even the most supportive reference may feel taken aback, a bit annoyed, and unprepared to give you the best endorsement with no time to prepare. 

When you start searching for new opportunities, at the same time, update your reference list and contact your references in advance. When you reach out ahead of time to let your references know about the job opportunities you’re going for and that they could be contacted by a hiring manager, it gives them a chance to prepare, catch up with your work experience and bring you to the top of their mind. 

2. Send Job Postings You’ve Applied For To Your References 

Once you’ve applied for job postings, it’s a good idea to send the job postings to your references. This way, your references are ready and can compare your skills to the requirements in the job posting. It makes their job much easier and informs them about the type of positions you’re looking for plus they can even pass along any similar opportunities. 

Connecting with colleagues to build network

3. Send an Updated Resume To Your References  

To guarantee that your references speak knowledgeably about your skills, your latest experience, and other relevant information, it is best to send your updated resume to your references. 

When you haven’t worked with someone for six months or more, they’re very unlikely to know where you’re at in your career or what results you’ve achieved in your most recent role.

4. Check With Your References To Make Sure They’re Ready 

Giving a good reference is a skill and is also not usually covered in business school or program. To support your references further and help them endorse you, below is more information to send to your reference:

  • Confirm with your reference that you can do the job you’ve applied for
  • Send a highlight of your strengths that will fit the role
  • Share some of your accomplishments at the job they know you from
  • Share a “weakness” that you worked on at the job they know you from
  • Send to your reference as a reminder: “During the reference call, when the hiring manager asks the big question about the candidate:  if you had the chance, would you rehire the candidate? The answer is YES.”

5. Finishing up – Thank and Support Your Reference In Return

A good rule of thumb in your professional and personal life is to bring as much in a relationship as you take from it. Send your reference a thank you card and also offer to return the favour such as vouch their skills on LinkedIn by writing a testimonial, follow their blogs, listen to their podcasts or attend an event they are hosting. Support your references’ success similar to how they are supporting you in your career. 

If you’re looking for more tips or guidance with your career, resume or your references, book a complimentary call with Maureen to help you reach your career goals. She’s on your team as well.