Today, the job market is a fierce environment where only the best candidates can succeed. While a resume may be impressive, no one wants to hire an individual that is difficult to work with or has a poor work ethic. To negate this and be sure the company is hiring the best candidate for the job, inquiring about a candidate’s work ethic and personality is often part of the hiring process. All of this meaning that if one wants to separate from the pack, choosing appropriate references is highly important.
When providing references, former employers are a good option. Assuming the relationship with one’s past or current employers is healthy, previous employers and supervisors can often give an accurate description of what someone is like as an employee. Alternatively, one without much of a work history such as a student may benefit from listing a professor or teacher as a reference – preferably someone who can vouch towards one’s work ethic.
Informing references beforehand is not only polite, but it gives adequate time for the reference to choose what he or she wants to say. There are a few ways of doing this such as email or telephone. While email is often most convenient, it likely doesn’t hurt to dial the phone and have a conversation with the potential reference. This is the more personable option and is likely to be appreciated. The company hiring may also require a letter of recommendation. In a case like this, it is best to give as much time as possible to the reference. This gives the reference a chance to sculpt an amazing letter that can give the inside track to the individual applying for the job. Most importantly, it is vital never to list someone as a contact with notifying them. This can be negative in a multitude of ways, but most importantly, if the reference is blindsided, he or she may not be able to express the positive attributes that may put one ahead of other candidates for the job.
Regardless of what one may ask of potential references, it is important to remember that being a reference is ultimately doing someone a favor. Letting someone know ahead of time avoids unnecessary hurdles in landing that next big job.