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Coaching your References

September 9, 2009

Arrow People
As you know, in the job search process it is essential to have three-four positive references behind you. Yet your role in the process does not stop once your references say “okay” when you ask them if they can be a positive professional or personal reference for you. It is your responsibility to make sure you give the people vouching for you the right tools to be able to speak highly of your past work performance, regardless of whether they agreed to provide a reference six minutes or six months ago. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your reference has the right tools to speak about you in the most positive light:

Courtesy Call

Give your reference a courtesy call after you hand his or her contact information out to an employer. Be sure to let your reference know the name of the company, the name of your contact there, and the job title to which you are applying. If the prospective employer does call one of your references, then he or she will not be as surprised to hear from your potential supervisor. By giving a reference the heads up, you also cause him or her to begin thinking about what information to share with the employer, increasing the chance that your most positive attributes are highlighted.

Supply a Resume

Arm your reference with the information needed to speak about your past work experience to a potential employer—your resume. Chances are your professional references only know you in the context of a single job. By providing them with copies of your resume, your references will be able to see the progression of your past education and work experiences that are driving you to apply for this new position. This also allows your references to view the accomplishments you have made throughout your career, allowing them to reiterate this information to the potential employer (and to hear about these professional triumphs from someone other than you).

The Position’s Job Description

After providing your resume with a list of key accomplishments, share the description of the job for which you just interviewed.  If you have strong references who really care about your well being, these individuals will be eager to explore the ways your qualifications match the requirements of this potential job.  The best way to guide your references through this process is with a written description of the job.  You can take this a step further by connecting the dots for your references.  Tell them how your experience aligns with the desired position.  This makes it even easier for your reference to put you on a pedestal when speaking with a potential employer.

Your Long Term Career Plan

In addition to sharing the specifics of your potential job, take some time to share your goals and aspirations with your references.  The more your references know about your long term career plan, the more focused they can be when responding to a potential employer about your strengths.  Your references answers can be tailored to demonstrate how this potential job fits with your long term plan.  Hiring managers love the idea of someone planning to work for their organization for the long term so coaching your references to share this information will gain you some extra points with potential employers.

Taking the time to coach your references on talking you up is well worth the effort.  By making a courtesy call to your references to share your resume, qualifications, a description of the potential job, and your long term goals you make it easier for your references to provide glowing recommendations of your talents and abilities.

Feel free to email us at hfranson@onl.herzing.edu or keilers@onl.herzing.edu and check out Herzing University Online at http://www.herzingonline.edu/.

Best Wishes,

Holly and Kay

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