Never underestimate the power of job reference. Though it comes much later in the interview process, it can make a huge difference between clinching the job and being a runner up.
According to a CareerBuilder survey 62 percent of employers, who contacted someone about a job reference, found out negative things about the job candidate. Even more worrisome, almost 69 percent of employers said they changed their minds about a candidate after talking to a job reference. Here's how to make sure that you have a reference that's in your corner.
1. Diversify your reference list
When it comes to picking your references, you want to choose people who can speak to a diversity of your work experience. Your list can include a former manager, colleague, client or subordinate; three to four people would be ideal.
2. Contact them in advance
Be sure to contact your references prior to submitting their names and contact information. Doing this can prepare the reference for contact from your prospective employer. You also want to know for yourself, the kind of reference that you're going to get.
Be direct. Ask the person that you're asking for a reference whether they can recommend you for the job.
3. Prep the reference.
Request convenient times and forms of contact from your references. Provide them with the name of your potential employer, and with some details about the job. This way, they themselves can do a little research and better refer your accomplishments with the job in question.
4. Keep in touch
Stay in touch with your reference pool. Whether or not you get the job, it's common courtesy that you check in every now and then. Besides, you may need him or her for another referral.
Click through the pictures below to see 7 tools every job-seeker needs.
7 Tools Every Job Seeker Needs
How to be sure you get a good job reference
1. Email signature.
Your email signature is possibly one of the most important branding tools you're not taking advantage of. It’s your chance to let everyone know what your expertise is, how to contact you and where to learn more about you online. Employees are often required to add the company logo, tag line and contact information to email signatures. As job seekers, an email signature is a subtle way to remind people what you do.
Quick tips: The most important information to include is your name, phone number, email address, desired occupation and link to your LinkedIn profile. An easy solution is to use an app like WiseStamp to create and insert your signature.
2. Active and robust LinkedIn presence.
LinkedIn has become a go-to source for companies of all sizes to seek out talent. While your profile will be similar to your résumé, it is not exactly the same. LinkedIn is a social network where people share information. Besides having a profile rich in content and media, you should also share newsworthy articles to help build your online reputation and stay connected with your network.
Quick tips: You must have a headshot, a headline that describes what you do and a summary where you tell your story. But don’t stop there. Embed a presentation that summarizes your experience or includes testimonials. Have you downloaded the SlideShare app for LinkedIn? What about the LinkedIn Connected or Pulse apps? These tools give you a better mobile LinkedIn experience.
3. An easily accessible, on-the-go résumé.
There will be occasions when someone wants you to send your résumé ASAP or when you arrive at an interview and your résumé is MIA. Save your résumés so you can easily access them and share them from your mobile device.
Quick tip: Being able to access important documents from anywhere is critical not only in your job search, but at work, too. Learn how to save and share documents using Dropbox or Google Drive, which provide free storage and are easily accessible from any device.
4. Business cards.
This may seem old-fashioned, but business cards make life easier. When you meet someone new or reconnect with an old friend, just hand him or her your card at the end of the conversation.
Quick tip: Your business card need only include the information you want to share: your name, occupation (or desired occupation), phone number, email address and links to any social media profiles, like your LinkedIn URL. If you want to use something more high-tech, try one of the apps that allows you to share your card from your phone, like CardDrop. Or pick up a business card with FullContact’s Card Reader.
5. Your perfected pitch.
You only have one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t blow it. You’ll need it when you meet people and they ask what you do. You’ll also need one customized for every interview you take. Your pitch conveys what problem you can solve for an employer. Use words and language to ensure your unique style and personality come through. And avoid résumé-speak or jargon that isn’t universally understood.
Quick tip: Keep your pitch under a minute, and practice so it sounds natural. If you need some guidance, check out the myPitch app created by Karalyn Brown of InterviewIQ.
6. Target list of potential employers.
Rather than searching job boards all day, looking for the perfect job and getting lost in the black hole of applications, why not approach people inside companies you would like to work for? This route is more work up front, but it will help you stand out and rise to the top of the referral pile if you make the cut.
Quick tip: There are tons of apps for finding posted jobs, but what you really need is additional help networking. Don’t miss Alison Doyle’s new app called Career Tool Belt. It's loaded with job hunting tips, including the 30 Days to your Dream Job series to guide you day by day.
7. A dose of motivation.
Job searching tends to lead to frustration. Rejection is an unfortunate part of the process. Invest time doing things that rejuvenate your energy and keep you feeling hopeful, such as exercising, volunteering or learning a new skill. Keep moving forward and create to-do lists and follow-up actions every day.
Quick tip: Whether you use a calendar system or an organizational app like Any.do, mapping out your weekly activities helps maintain momentum and puts you in the driver’s seat.