Why Manage References?
Most candidates leave the content of their references up to chance, because they don’t know what their references are saying … placing their faith that it will be something “positive”.
Just because a reference is positive, doesn’t mean it provides the help (or the right type of help) that you may need.
- ”Positive” references come in many flavors: Will your reference give you just an OK ref, a good ref, or a truly great reference? The difference between these types of “positive” references can be communicated by tone, pacing, enthusiasm, and word choice. Do you know how “positive” of a reference you are being given (may not correlate to the positive reviews you got)?
- References each tell a part of your story: A “positive” reference may naturally talk about the same aspect of your performance as the rest of your references. On one hand, it’s nice that everyone says the same thing, but it limits the outside corroboration that references provide your personal story. You’re typically better represented if each references focuses on a different skill that you bring to an employer. Often the references you choose truly want to help, but don’t know what to say that will help you.
- Reference doesn’t know what’s important to the company: Will your reference choose to talk about what a great team player you were, not realizing you are interviewing for a role where individual contribution is more important than collaboration? Will your well-meaning reference talk about the great job you did as a generalist, when your prospective employer is looking for specific subject matter expertise?
Most candidates leave these types of issues with references up to chance. Since there is so much out of your control in job search, isn’t it in a candidate’s best interest to actively manage the things they can control?
Now that you realize some of the risks of unmanaged references, let’s talk about how to manage your references.
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