One very important decision in the job application process is who to use for your professional references. What job seekers often forget is that the person who is serving as their reference does more than just verifies their past employment and performance in that position, but they are often asked questions pertaining to your character, skills, and attitude too.
You should select a professional reference who you have worked with at some point, and it is best if you have a strong professional camaraderie with this person. You should choose someone who you think enjoys spending time with you and working with you. Choose someone who you know will answer questions in an honest, and positive way.
If there is tension in your current work environment and you are worried that a coworker or supervisor there may volunteer negative information, then it is best to leave them off your list of references.
Research shows that verbal references can have the most positive effect on a person’s employment outcome, so when you submit contact information to a prospective employer, provide your references’ phone numbers, and not their e-mail addresses. It is more personal to do a reference check over the phone, and the recruiter will hopefully be able to hear the enthusiasm and admiration that your reference has for you and your abilities.
Once you have selected your references, it is a good idea to speak with your reference and let them know they should be expecting a call about the position. It also helps if you give them some information about the job for which you are applying, so they have an idea of what sort of qualifications and characteristics they should emphasize during the reference check. It is very unprofessional to ask your reference to respond in a specific way to a reference question.
A reference should be prepared to answer questions such as, “What can you tell me about this candidate?” “What is your professional relationship with the candidate?” “In what areas does this candidate need improvement?” “What are this candidate’s greatest strengths and achievements?” “How does this professional perform under pressure?” and other similar questions.
One of the best things you can do in your job search is to make sure you pick a great reference who will sing your praises and help you land the job! Pick references that have faith in you and your work and admire you, and you should have nothing to worry about.