Wed, 1 Jul, 2020
After spending time seeking the perfect job, tailoring your CV and cover letter accordingly, and perfecting the interview process (multi-stage as well!), submitting a list of your references seems like a near-too-easy step: list two names, copy and paste their contact information, and shoot it all over to the hiring manager, no?
Not so quick. Remember, even though you've gone through all the other steps in the process, this one still matters. Your ticket to a great offer can be an enthusiastic reference; a lacklustre, even mediocre, one might be the reason another candidate gets the job. And the difference between the former and the latter much depends on what you're doing.
The first step is to choose the right references. You need to select people who know you well and your relevant work, who will speak a lot about you and who you have kept in a reasonable touch over the years.
The second step is to ask them nicely — and in strategic terms. That's right, you don't just want to cross your fingers and hope for the best, you also want to make it as easy as possible for your contacts to sing their praises to the hiring manager in such a way as to make it clear that you are the one for the job.
How is this done? Well, we have made a fill-in-the-blanks email template super-easy:
I hope all is well. How have things been with [company, organisation, or personal interest of the person]?
I'm touching base because I interviewed [position name] at [company], and if you're willing, I 'd love to list your name as a reference. I was thinking of you because we have [the ways you worked together] and you could talk to me about my [key skills and abilities needed in the new position].
For your reference , I have attached my current CV and the position description. I know that the hiring team is particularly looking for someone [very brief description of the key elements of the role], so I hope you can talk specifically about:
- [1-2 Position-Key skills, abilities, or talents]
- [Specific project you've been working on is relevant for the role]
- [Key differentiator between the candidates and you]
Please let me know if you would be willing to act as a reference and if so, let me know your preferred contact information and any other details that you need from my end. I think the [call, email] will come from [hiring manager 's name] at [company's/recruitment company name] around [time frame].
And, of course, I fully understand if you're busy, or not comfortable. Thanks for your time in advance, and let me know how I can return that favour!
Best of all,
In conclusion, you want this email to give your contact all the details it needs to understand your current work and skill set, the role you 're interviewing for, and what you're hoping them to highlight, as well as an easy way out if they are not comfortable serving as your reference.
It’s also important to note that if don't get a very enthusiastic response, you 're probably better off moving on to someone else. (You might want to interpret that as unenthusiastic if your contact is typically very responsive and takes a long time to get back to you.)
Finally, our last point on references: Whatever happens — whether you get the job or not — follow up with your contacts and thank them for their time (or, better yet, return the favour!). Most people are happy to serve as references, but showing appreciation will help to maintain those relationships.
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