When a recruiter will consider you seriously as a suitable applicant, you will be asked to provide references. Hiring someone can be a great idea or a very big mistake, so it is natural that the employer wants to minimize the risk by finding out more about your abilities and personality.
Save yourself from the stress by preparing a reference list in time; don't try to hunt down your referees in the last minute to vouch for your skills and abilities. But hand it over only when you are asked to provide such a list. You should include the full name, the company name, the position, the phone number and the e-mail address of each reference person. It is also a customary practice to signal if any of them is a Dr. or a PhD.
Ensure that you have enough references. Whenever you change your employment, secure some references and if possible, ask for a recommendation letter as well. Don't forget to stay in touch with those who are willing to vouch for you. A recommendation letter is nice; a unique one written for a single job and addressed to your interviewer is even better and nothing can beat a verbal reference. So keep your reference list up-to-date and inform your reference persons about the status of your job search. If possible, tell them whom you gave your reference list to and don't forget to thank them for their help.
Whom to include into your reference list?
Professional references should be given by a former employer, supervisor or co-worker. In case of graduates, a professor is also a good choice. Just make sure they are willing to give such recommendation and don't forget to ask for their permission before you include them on your reference list. You should also check your previous employer's reference policy. Some employers do not provide references to avoid possible litigation issues. They will confirm your job title and dates of employment only and won't comment on your performance. In case you do not have professional references, you should consider providing character references from people who know you and your skills.
Even so, try to avoid listing friends, family members or those who have reservations being a reference for you. Naturally, avoid those who would say negative things about you or don't know you well enough to have a grounded opinion about your professional skills as well. If you are still employed and you do not want your current boss to get a surprise call, don't be shy to say so. It is perfectly acceptable. Simply provide alternative references.
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