There are many parts of the job application process that we’ve covered, ranging from interview tips to working with a recruiter and even the importance of a timely follow-up. One aspect that we haven’t touched upon in much detail is the power of professional references.

Many job applications require a few things: a resume, cover letter and list of references. This should be a list of people you have previously worked with who can vouch for your performance as an employee and how you are as a person. The biggest problem that people often encounter when creating their list of references is figuring out who to include. According to glassdoor, there are five people you can include on your list of references: a former employer, colleague, teacher, advisor or supervisor.

Your work does not end once you figure out who you’d like to include on your list of references, however. If you’re including these people as your references, you must go further than just listing their names and email addresses. You want these people to give positive referrals if called upon and that requires some work.

Figuring out the right people to serve as references can be an anxiety-inducing experience. However, thanks to some tips from our friends at TopResume it doesn’t have to be. To read the full article from Anthony Gaenzle click here.

Never Burn Bridges

The quickest way to ensure you won’t be getting a positive referral is if you burn bridges at a previous employer. If you made any of these resignation mistakes at your last employer, chances are you have burnt a bridge or two, and if that is the case, it’s very difficult to repair a relationship. The easiest way to not burn bridges is to maintain your sense of professionalism throughout your entire resignation process; smile and move on.

If you bash the company and former colleagues, yet still ask them for a reference, it is highly unlikely that they will recommend you with flying colors to future employers. As unfortunate as it sounds, if they provide you with a reference it might be negative and actually ruin your chances with a future job opportunity. You’ll never know when you’ll need someone to vouch for you, so you don’t want to burn bridges, regardless of how you feel about previous opportunities.

Make The Initial Ask

As the saying goes, “you’ll never know unless you ask.” While it might seem awkward to ask your boss to use him or her as a reference, you should make sure to do so in case future hiring managers decide to call your reference list. If you use your boss without him or her knowing so and they get a call, they might not be prepared to give their best recommendation to hire you.

Gaenzle recommends sitting down with your boss prior to your last day to let them know how much you appreciate everything during your time working with them and says that you can ask them to be a future reference during this meeting.

Follow Up

One of the most forgotten parts of the interview process, and often a determining factor, is the follow up. The same can be said of using your references. If you haven’t spoken to someone on your reference list for a few years, they probably shouldn’t be on your list. However, you may not necessarily need to reach out to your work references for a while, so it is important to follow up with them occasionally.

When following up, you don’t need to specifically mention the reference. Instead, you can set up a meeting to catch up over coffee or lunch and see how they are doing. Not only does this give you the opportunity to reconnect, but by taking an interest in his or her life you show that you aren’t solely interested in getting that work reference. Additionally, it puts you at the front of his or her mind which can in turn make them prioritize writing that reference.

Wrap Up

If you are actively applying to jobs, chances are you have formulated a list of professional references to include with your applications. Before clicking “submit,” make sure that you have gone through all of TopResume’s tips to securing professional references and ensure that they will leave you a positive review.

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