So, you got a call for an interview (congrats!) and have been asked to bring three professional references to the meeting.
For some, this is a very simple task: Use your current manager or supervisor, use your past manager A or current supervisor/co-worker, and use your past manager B.
However, for others, this may be difficult. If you’ve been in the same position for several years, or have been out of school for even longer, it may be more of a challenge to conjure up three people who will be able to provide information about your strengths and abilities. In these situations, unfortunately, Aunt Kim’s opinion on your delicious cheesecake won’t suffice.
So, how do you ensure you provide referees that will:
- remember who you are, and
- be able to provide specifics on your work?
Maintaining your network is one of the most important things you can do to ease this worry. With sites like LinkedIn, it is now easier to stay up to date with past co-workers. LinkedIn gives you notifications of work anniversaries and new jobs. Sending a “Congratulations on the new job!” email may seem irrelevant in the moment, but that person (your potential referee) will read it and think about you and the history you two have.
Once you have decided to use the selected person from your network, send them an email or call them asking if you could use them as a reference. Let them know of the position you are interviewing for, and what skills you would like them to highlight. Always make sure you have their contact information correct!!
In some cases, you may want to use your current manager. How exactly do you say “Hi, manager. I have a job interview at another organization, and would like to use you as a reference”? Before that, you could try having a conversation with your manager to see where they stand on this sort of thing. Discuss your career aspirations and ask for feedback on how your current organization can help you achieve those goals. Remember, you can keep your job search quiet until you need more information.
You can also consider using current supervisors and co-workers as references. They can provide good insights into your day-to-day abilities that perhaps your manager doesn’t get to see.
Lastly (and to repeat), make sure their contact information is up to date and correct. Provide the interviewee with their job title, their organization, and their phone number and email. An email is important to include, especially if the contact is overseas.
After the interview, send a thank you letter to the referee (and the interviewee, but that is a topic for another day) thanking them for supporting you in your search for a new position.
Question of the week: Who else do you think would make good professional references?
Thanks for reading!