Tuesday, March 18, 2014

RHT: 4 Tips for a Positive Reference Check

by Clea Badion  Robert Half Technology
March 18, 2014

A little preparation can pave the way for a glowing reference check.

Like every part of the job search process — from the the IT interview to crafting your IT resume — preparation is key when it comes to the reference check.

Robert Half Technology’s senior executive director, John Reed, gives some advice onhow to ensure you get a fantastic reference check. His tips include making sure you have some diversity on your reference list, including former managers, people you managed, mentors and clients.

In addition, you should always let those on your reference list know you’re looking for a job, and ask if they’d like to serve as a reference before you add them to your list. No one should be surprised by a call from a perspective hiring manager.

Check out all the tips for a positive reference check in the article below:

The reference check portion of the job search process can mean the difference between getting a stellar job offer or a polite rejection email. A glowing and detailed review from an outstanding reference is a critical step to landing your dream tech job. You’ll be more likely to pass a potential employer’s reference check with flying colors if you follow these five steps:

1. Make a list. Write down the names of former managers who are likely to have positive things to say about your performance. You may want to add former coworkers, clients, educators, mentors, and even employees you managed to your list if you think a 360-degree reference portfolio would be valuable to the hiring manager. Many employers appreciate and will even request references from a variety of sources (and some will seek out these references on their own). This helps them gain a deeper understanding of how you interact with different team members and other key players, and helps to ensure they get the “straight scoop” on your skills and experience.

Hiring managers usually ask for three names when doing a reference check. You may want to have a list of five or six references handy however, just in case some people cannot be reached while the reference check process is under way.

2. Reach out. Contact the people on your list and let them know you’re looking for a new job. Ask each person for permission to include their name and contact information on your formal list of references. Be sure to ask how they prefer to be contacted — personal or office phone, private or work email. If they agree to serve as a reference, you may want to jog their memory about successful projects you contributed to and other achievements, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve worked together. You also may want to suggest which of your skills, experiences or qualifications you’d like them to highlight to hiring managers. After a job interview, and if you feel comfortable doing so, send your references a few key details about what was discussed; many hiring mangers use the reference check to confirm the information you have provided on your resume or during an interview.

3. Ask the right people. To land the job you want, a rave review from one or more reputable professional references is almost essential. It won’t help your case if a former boss can’t clearly recall you or your accomplishments. When contacting potential references, give them the option to bow out in case they don’t have fantastic things to say. A professional way to give them an out is to add: “I know you’re very busy, so if you don’t have enough time to do this, I understand.”

4. Follow up. Whether you get the job or not, be sure to thank your references for the time and effort they’ve expended on your behalf. An email is adequate, but a handwritten note is even better. It’s also a good idea to maintain contact with the people on your list. Keep them up to date on your career and send news of major work accomplishments. Staying in touch keeps you fresh in their minds, and helps them stay prepared to be references for you in the future.

— Clea Badion

Clea Badion is an editor for the RHT Blog. She’s been writing about the workplace, career trends and technology for the past decade. Clea has 15 years of professional writing and editing experience and a master’s degree in visual studies. She’s a little obsessed with cute animal videos and the show ”American Ninja Warrior.” Follow her on Twitter @cleabadion.

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