Career Challenges: References

Most of you have put a statement like "references are available upon request" at the end of a resume or CV. This sentence isn't necessary at all because employers expect you to provide references when they ask for it anyway. But what if you are asked to be someone's reference? Do you know what you should be doing/saying in that case? We often think about those people who may be our own references but sometimes we could just pay it forward and help your friend get the job by becoming a good reference for him/her. So whether you are going to be a reference for someone you know or you are asking your former colleagues to be your reference it is quite useful to know the following recommendations...

How to Be an Excellent Reference?

First of all, you have to check your company's policy on giving a reference. In that case, you have to know what you are allowed to say. So before giving approval to any of your former colleagues make sure you inform them of things you can/can not say. The thing is that some companies allow saying nothing but confirm your professional connection. That means that if you receive a phone call in the context of reference verification activity you may just say that you are happy to be Andrew's references but due to the policy of your employer you cannot say anything else but that you worked with him 2 years ago. If you don't have that kind of policies in the company you work for then it is better if you prepare a few talking points. When talking to the former colleague's prospective employer focus on specific things rather than general compliments. Especially if you know what kind of skills is required for the job. Mention an episode that you have personally witnessed when your former colleague has demonstrated that skill and helped the company save money or something.

Specific situations will always give a better understanding of the one you are talking as it gives a chance to see skills in practice. In addition, it makes the conversation more engaging. Again, it is important that you are talking about skills which would be relevant for employer. Otherwise, it might be just a waste of time. Another thing that you have to keep in mind is to keep your story real. There is no need to make up facts to make someone look better. Just say what you know and don't exaggerate - it may actually do more hard than good. Be careful when you choose words. Mean what you say. This is the best thing you can do for your former colleague. You could even draft several points to be prepared for a call anytime. And if you are asked to send it via email then it will be half ready. A little bit of editing and tailoring a few things and you will be ready to send it. And remember being a good reference for someone often pays back...

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