As a third-party endorsement of your skill set, strengths and experience, references play a crucial role in your job search and application process.
These professionals know firsthand your work ethic and expertise and have volunteered to support you in your job search. Therefore, you should treat them carefully and with respect.
Career coaches are often asked what the proper etiquette is for contacting and updating someone who is on your references list. Here is an easy guide to follow closely during your job search.
[See: 16 Low-Stress Jobs.]
Check in with references before your interview.
Before you participate in a job interview, review your references list. Do you feel that your current references will be able to provide a positive account of your strengths and accomplishments for the particular position for which you will be interviewing? Make any adjustments to the list as needed to ensure each person will be able to speak to the experience required for that job.
Call or email everyone on your current reference list to ensure they are still willing and able to be a reference. Before a hiring manager calls them, it’s important to check that they won’t be on vacation, at an industry event or somewhere else where they won’t have easy phone access. Let each person know the date of your job interview and ask if they will be available close to that date to provide a reference if needed.
For example, you can say, “Next Wednesday I will be going on a job interview. I would love to keep you on my reference list if you will be available on or after that day in case the hiring manager wants to contact you. Would those dates work for you?”
Once they have confirmed their availability, let those on your list know what kind of job you have applied for and remind them why you asked them to provide a reference. Perhaps they can attest to the success of a certain project, describe a skill that you demonstrated in your previous job or speak to a strength that is needed for the position you seek.
Try a gentle reminder, such as, “The job interview is for a management position with a growing tech company. I’m excited to talk about the project that we worked on last year together that required leadership skills. I’ll be mentioning how the positive impact of our leadership skills helped the project succeed.”
Thank references after the interview.
If your job interview was positive and you did give the hiring manager your list of references, send a quick email letting them know that you gave out their information. This is important to do as a courtesy every time you give out a reference’s contact information. It also will help to make sure your references aren’t caught off guard when they receive a call asking about you.
Additionally, make sure to thank them for supporting your job search. For example, you could write, “I wanted to let you know that I gave a hiring manager my list of references today. The job interview was positive so I’m very hopeful I will receive a call back for an additional interview. Thank you so much for your support during my job search!”
[See: 9 Common First-Job Mistakes.]
Did someone on your list talk to a hiring manager and give you a positive reference? Regardless of the result, send a handwritten note thanking him or her and expressing how much you appreciate that he or she took the time to speak with the hiring manager on your behalf.
If you do land the job, call or send a brief email to everyone on your list, letting them know you received a job offer along with your updated business contact information.
After you have gotten settled at your new position, keep those who gave you a positive reference up to date with your professional progress by checking in via email or LinkedIn every six months or so.
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