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Job Interview Tips

Use These 5 Tips to Get Your References Right

By Joseph Cueto on March 3, 2015

Can’t spell “preferences” without the word “references” right? From a new graduate to a grizzled veteran of the employment process, landing a job preference that is more to your liking may boil down to another ingredient—the quality of references an applicant can give.

With the right tips about references supplied by PeopleFoundry’s Michelle Joseph, here’s hoping your job search can lead to favorable results, serving as a case of “It’s about who you know, not just what you know” in a positive light, of course.

Here are some of Joseph’s pointers:
1. Be professional by keeping your references professional too.
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Former teachers can be a good source of references. It pays to have been able to forge relationships with college faculty or school advisors connected to your degree. Former or current employers are okay to include in your reference list as well. Any work experience that speaks of tenure, experience, and capabilities and talents can be cited.
2. Avoid putting down family and friends as references.
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They will probably put in a good word for you. That's exactly why you will consider listing them down in the first place. Recruiters know this and that's also why you should refrain from asking for references from them. As much as you want someone who has nice things to say about you, remember that you want your references to remain unbiased and fair as well.
3. Enlist a reference who will give you positive feedback.
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You want your references to be 1) credible meaning you've worked closely enough that puts them in a position to give credible feedback, and 2) someone who will give positive feedback or recommendations. If it's a toss up between the two, pick the latter. You are trying to land a new job and someone who will be (brutally) honest might not be your best shot right now.
4. Ask first.

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Before listing anyone down, be sure to get in touch through a phone call or email if they are willing to serve as your reference. You don't want recruiters to call and catch them off guard. Or worse, for your references to brush the recruiter off. If you expect them to give you a glowing recommendation, the very least you could do is to give them a head's up.
5. Regardless of how your interview turns out, express gratitude to your references.
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They are already and will be part of your network so best to nurture the relationship.

Are you concerned that your reference stock is in short supply? Joseph suggests replenishing your collection of references through the following avenues: career fests and/or networking events organized by your university, volunteering, and informational interviews. Are you excited to take the steps to ensure you’ll get helpful references? Having references that speak of you glowingly is another springboard that can help your chances of securing an amazing job.

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