“References are similar to mentors. They are a must-have.” Career coach Jenn DeWall doesn’t mince words when it comes to the importance of choosing and securing the right references who can vouch for your professional and personal value as an employee. When you are applying to a job, it’s easy to think that the interviews and the resume are the most important parts of the process and that references are just HR’s way of making sure you’re not a crazy liar. However, that’s far from the truth.
Recruiters and those in HR use references as a way to fill in the gaps about a candidate, to learn more about a candidate’s work style, their track record of success, and the things that they are passionate about beyond the job description. As a job seeker and candidate, it is essential to have a list of people who can provide glowing references about who you are as a person and a hard worker.
“Think about it as trying to create your power team of people that advocate for you,” says DeWall, “that is the goal of initiating and maintaining these relationships. The more people you have to speak in your favor, the better your chances are of receiving strong recommendations but also future career opportunities. If you don’t have them, it’s time to get them!”
Here’s how to secure recommendations and references that will be the difference between a recruiter saying “Thanks, but, no thanks” and “We’d love to offer you a job!”