via Mic Network Inc : 5 secrets to getting the perfect job recommendation
Asking someone to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation can feel really awkward. But it’s an inevitable part of landing a new job, applying to graduate school and taking the next step in your career.
When you need someone to vouch for you, you want to choose a person who will sing your praises. Here’s how to do it right.
1. It’s all about who you know — and how well they know you
Your reference needs to say good things about you and talk up your talents. So it helps if you have someone to ask who actually knows who you are and why you’re so awesome.
“The best references are from people who have worked closely with you,” Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, author of It’s Not the How or the What but the Who, told the Harvard Business Review.
The stronger your relationship and the better your recommender knows you, the more genuine and convincing they will come across.
Need help building stronger relationships? Be willing to ask for help when you need it, and treat each person you’re talking to as if they’re the most interesting person in the room, suggests Daniel Epstein, who was named 2014’s entrepreneur of the year by the World Entrepreneurship Forum.
Most importantly, always follow through when you say you’re going to do something. That builds trust, and trust builds relationships.
2. Don’t disappear when you leave a job
Strong work relationships don’t end just because you switch jobs. It never hurts to drop a note to a former co-worker about catching up over drinks or keep following your old boss on Twitter.
While staying in touch has its own rewards, it’s especially helpful during a job search. After all, you don’t want to tip your current employer off that you’re interviewing by asking someone at your current job to vouch for you.
Asking an old boss or co-worker can be a good way to avoid this awkward situation — but only if you’ve kept in touch.
Another way to stay connected if your work relationship never spilled over into happy hour: Send industry news and relevant industry information via email, as it gives you a good excuse to reach out to former contacts, according to Lifehacker.
3. Be smart about who you ask
Who should you ask? “Managers who have given you positive performance reviews…. co-workers who have thanked you for help on projects…. and people who have successfully worked under you,” are all good references, career expert Priscilla Claman told the Harvard Business Review.
It pays to have more than one person in mind, since your top pick might be on vacation or maternity leave when your potential new employer asks you for names and numbers. Three is a good rule of thumb, with your best reference at the top of the list.
4. Give your references as much advance notice as possible
If you need a written letter of recommendation, it’s vital that you provide at least a couple weeks’ notice. Asking in person or by phone is best, but you can send an email if you must, according to the Muse.
Notice is also important when listing someone as a reference, even if they may get a call just minutes later. You don’t want your reference to be unprepared — or worse, not pick up at all because they don’t know who’s calling.
Make your recommender’s job easy by providing talking points. Examples might be projects you excelled on, professional traits that set you apart and a short personal anecdote to show that they really know you. Let your recommender know a little about the job or program you’re applying for so they can tailor their comments appropriately.
Lastly, give your would-be recommender a way to refuse without things getting awkward. “Would you have time to be a reference?” works just fine.
5. Say thank you — then pay it forward
It’s important to thank your reference for taking the time to talk you up.
If their reference helped you get the job, tell them so!
Finally, once you’ve been hired — thanks to your good reference — it’s time to pay it forward. Mentoring less experienced candidates at work allows you to give back for the help you’ve been provided in your career. And who knows, one day they might ask you to be a reference too.
via U.S.News : Everything you need to know about job references
When an interviewer asks you for a list of references, are you confident about the names you hand over? Do you wonder what kind of questions they might be asked, or whether you’ve picked the right people? Are you supposed to list your current manager, or is it OK not to?
Here’s a quick rundown of the basics that you should know about job references.
What kind of questions will your references be asked?
This varies from employer to employer, but it’s pretty typical for a reference checker to ask about the quality of your work, your strengths and weaknesses, the reason you left the job and whether the employer would hire you back if they could. They may also ask more detailed questions, such as how well you took feedback, how you got along with co-workers and how reliable you were, and they might even ask for specific examples of times that you showed particular initiative or solved a tricky problem or resolved a customer complaint.
Some reference checkers will stick to just verifying your title, dates of employment and job duties – but that’s more typical of a background check than a reference check.
Who should you pick for references?
The best references are people who managed your work and will speak positively of you. You want to offer up people familiar enough with you and your work that they can speak with some nuance to your skills and accomplishments – and you definitely want people who will speak of you with enthusiasm. A lukewarm reference who sounds ambivalent can raise concerns for the employer who’s considering hiring you.
How many references do you need?
Typically you should have at least three references who you’re comfortable offering up. If you’re early in your career and have only had one or two jobs, employers will generally understand if you only have one or two references from managers.
Is it OK to use peers instead of managers?
Past managers will make the strongest references, because they’re the people who were charged with evaluating your work. Peers can talk about you as a co-worker, but most reference checkers will want to hear the assessment of the person responsible for evaluating you. But it’s OK to include one peer on a reference list as long as you also include several managers. (And if you don’t include any managers, reference checkers are likely to wonder if you’re hiding something.)
Do you have to list your current manager?
No! It’s very normal to ask a reference checker not to contact your current boss because most people don’t let their employer know they’re job searching. If an employer is insisting on a reference from your current manager, it’s reasonable to push back. You can point out that you can’t jeopardize your job by letting your manager know that you’re looking to leave. But if the employer keeps insisting, one option is to allow it only once you have an offer (which can be contingent on a good reference from your current job).
What if you’re not in touch with previous managers anymore and don’t know how to find them?
Try hard to find them. Check LinkedIn, check with other former co-workers to see if they know where to find the person, and otherwise do your best to locate them. Many employers will be wary of hiring you if they can’t speak to anyone who has managed you in the past. (And this is why it’s important to stay in touch, so that you don’t find yourself in this position!)
Does an employer need your permission to contact a reference?
No. Employers don’t need your permission to contact your references, and they also aren’t limited to just the names you provide. They can call anyone they’d like, including jobs that you didn’t put on your reference list. (This is more likely to happen if the hiring manager knows someone at one of your previous employers and contacts the person to ask about you.) That said, it’s considered bad form to contact your current employer without your explicit permission.
What if your old employer doesn’t give references?
Some companies have policies that they’ll only confirm dates of employment and won’t provide more detailed references. In most cases, though, it’s usually human resources who sticks to that policy, while individual managers are often willing to give more candid references, no matter what the policy says. That’s especially true for strong employees, since most managers want to help former good employees find their next jobs.
What if you’re worried about a former boss giving you a bad reference?
If you’re worried about getting a bad reference, trying calling your old boss to see if she’s willing to reach an agreement with you about what she’ll say to reference checkers. Many managers will be willing to work something out with you if you explain that you’re worried that their reference is making it impossible for you to find work – even if it’s only to agree to limit the reference to confirming your work there.
But if your old boss is outright lying about you, go straight to your former company’s HR department and explain what’s happening. HR should recognize the potential for legal problems if a company rep is lying about you and they are likely to intervene with your old boss.
Last, if none of that works, you might need to warn future reference checkers that the reference from that manager might not be a positive one. That will allow you to provide some context about why – such as that your work there suffered while you were having health problems that have since been resolved, or that you were in a job that was a bad fit for your skills.
Via Forbes : When Sarah Stamboulie worked in human resources at Morgan Stanley and then at Cantor Fitzgerald, she routinely checked job applicants’ references. They were not always positive. “You know it’s bad when you ask about the person, and then there’s that pause,” she says. “Or they might say, ‘Is attendance important to you?’” Or they claim that their company policy prevents them from talking about the person. “If you get three of those, you’re like, this person is not good,” says Stamboulie, who is now a career coach in New York.
Which leads to the first rule of references: Only use someone as a reference if you’re certain she will sing your praises. “Hiring managers expect a rave,” Stamboulie observes. When you approach someone to ask if she’ll be your reference, you can make light of the fact that you’re asking for a cheering section, but do ask. Stamboulie also advises giving the person an out, saying something like, “I know it takes time to be a reference, and I completely understand if you’re too busy.”
What if your immediate supervisor at your last job hated your guts? Try to find another reference who adores you, Stamboulie says, but if you know that boss is going to run around badmouthing you, take action. One of her clients had a job at an investment bank, where a boss asked him to do something he considered unethical. He left the company and started looking elsewhere. Through the grapevine, he heard that his old boss was blackballing him. So he went back to the boss and confronted him. Soon after he got a new job in an office that included a colleague who had also worked for the unethical boss. He wasn’t sure his strategy to silence that former boss had worked, Stamboulie says, but he did find employment.
Another essential for getting a strong reference: Help her prepare not only to rave about you, but also to offer specific examples of your brilliant accomplishments.
Marcie Schorr Hirsch, a consultant and coach in Belmont, MA, recommends that at the end of any job interview you ask the hiring manager about the strengths of the person who previously held the job. Then share that information with your reference. Help her come up with stories of how you demonstrated precisely those strengths.
Anita Attridge, a New York career coach, suggests sending your reference an e-mail with a bullet point list of achievements she can mention when a hiring manager calls.
Hirsch likes the idea of offering a “360-degree” set of references. That means including a superior, a colleague and someone who reported to you. That way the hiring manager can get a sense of your strengths from multiple perspectives.
Scott Robinson, a former partner at the executive search firm Kensington International, says headhunters routinely search for references beyond the ones a job seeker provides. “We’ll say to a reference, ‘Who else do you know who worked with Bob?’” he reports. Robinson, who has mostly recruited for senior-level positions, has sometimes grilled references for specifics. Which is why it’s a great idea to supply a ready list of anecdotes that illustrate your brilliance.
It’s also important never to burn bridges as you exit, even if you’re furious at your soon-to-be-former colleagues. Robinson worked with a candidate who felt he was unfairly fired. “He made a big brouhaha about it,” says Robinson. “He had worked at the company for a long time, but then his only base of references was tainted.” The candidate would have been much wiser to have walked out the door, calmed down and let some time pass before asking his old employer for a good word.