References are a critically important part of the job-search process and, because they are needed at the end of the interview cycle, can sometimes be an afterthought until requested by an employer. Avoid this trap. Rather, by simply planning ahead, you can prepare your references to serve as your advocates and to best represent you. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Stay in contact with former managers and colleagues who have observed your people skills and are familiar with your work.
- Tone of voice and body language can reveal reluctance, so ask for a reference in person or over the phone. Poor eye contact, a flat voice, and hesitation are good indications it’s best to find someone else.
- Ask your references to provide résumé feedback, and offer them a list of major projects and achievements you have worked on together.
[Related: Learn How to Write a Job-Specific Résumé]
- Provide your references the job description or vacancy announcement for the position you are seeking so they can highlight your relevant work experience.
- Keep your references informed of your job-search process.
- Always remember to say thank-you throughout the journey and inform them when you have successfully landed.