References are golden assets as you travel your career path. Nurture them with great care.
They may be personal or professional. The personal ones can speak to your stability and character. On the professional side, references should address your qualifications to handle the job. A combination of both types is first prize.
There are six career tips that will help you make sure your references assets work to your advantage in your search for a job.
1. Never take for granted that a reference will be positive. Get approval from each one, no matter how solid you may think the relationship is, so that the referring person can be prepared to speak for you from first hand knowledge. The last thing you want is for a reference to be caught off guard. This contact is best made with a face-to-face meeting.
2. Bring the potential reference up to speed on your job status. Detail the history of your career. Explain the reasons you are looking for a new position. Explain your career goals.
3. Describe in detail the job you are seeking. Ask for career advice, as well as any leads to job opportunities. Never forget, everybody likes to be ask for advice.
4. After you secure their assurance of a positive reference, send them a copy of your resume and cover letter. Request their comments. This is a good way to get them involved in your search.
5. Keep references involved in your job search. Request that they notify you when they receive calls from prospective employers. Get their take on the degree of interest the interviewers have in your application and the status of the search.
6. The follow-up is an extremely important part of the process. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and challenges of a new job so you forget to thank those who provided references. That's a big mistake. Send "thank you" notes for their agreeing to serve as a reference. Keep them posted on the progress of your job search. After you get the job, keep your references posted on the progress you make on your career path.
Never burn your bridges. Remember you may need these references in the future.
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