Who Makes a Good Professional Reference?

Analyst, San Diego, CA
Marketing Intern, New York, NY
Analyst, Colorado Springs, CO
Graduate Consultant, London, UK
Equity Research Associate, New York, NY

More recent jobs you might like…

Employers place a lot of value on references, because these provide both an insight into how well you work with other people, as well as a subjective perspective on who you are.  While a resume is something that you can spend time tweaking and perfecting on your own, a reference isn’t entirely in your control, and is therefore more honest in some respects.  For this reason, it’s crucial that when you are deciding whom to ask for a reference, you choose someone who will not only sing your praises, but who will also be able to speak intelligently about you and give hiring managers a more complete picture of who you are and how you work.  Here are some individuals you should consider:

Your Current Employer

Few people will have a better understanding of how well you work for someone than your current employer.  Hiring managers like to speak to referrers who have a current, realistic take on the candidate being reviewed, and so they will take a lot of stock in what your current boss has to say.  Before you list this person as a reference, however, make sure that you have discussed with them your plans to find another position – otherwise you could find yourself in some hot water.

A Past Employer

A past employer is also a good person to turn to, especially if you haven’t worked too closely with your current employer.  It’s especially helpful if you had a particularly close relationship with your previous boss, and if they can provide a more valuable insight into who you are.  Depending on how much time has passed, it’s probably a good idea to refresh this person’s memory by summarizing some of the highlights from your working relationship, as well as to update them on some of your current professional endeavors.

Your Professor

Many individuals just entering the working world will turn to professors to vouch for them, and this is just as acceptable as asking an employer to refer you.  A professor will have a solid idea of your work ethic, your ability to collaborate with others, and your overall intelligence.  He or she will likely focus on the transferable skills that you possess, which you can utilize in the workplace.

A Coworker

If you feel that you cannot turn to an employer for a good reference, consider asking someone you work with.  A coworker can speak to how well you work in a team; they can also discuss your ability to take the lead on certain projects or help others with their work.

A Customer

Depending on your line of work, another individual to consider as a potential reference is a satisfied customer with whom you have worked closely.  This person can speak about your professionalism, your ability to get the job done in a timely manner, and your communication skills.  A customer who is willing to go out of their way to provide a good reference speaks volumes about your character and working style.

These are just a few of the many individuals whom you can ask for a reference.  Other examples include business contacts, teammates, family friends, and more.  Any person who is able to speak about your work ethic, leadership skills,  ability to learn, value as a team member, and so on, is a possible reference.  Just make sure that you ask them before you start giving away their contact information to hiring managers!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Beef Up Your Job Search – Get Tech Savvy!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Banking Analyst, Boston, MA
Deal Flow Associate, Miami, FL
Private Equity Associate – Direct Investing, Toronto, Canada
Attorney Development Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Associate/Analyst, New York, NY

More recent jobs you might like…

In case you haven’t noticed, the old paper resume isn’t getting the same results it once did – even with special formatting or high-quality paper. Electronic resumes are the ones grabbing all the attention these days.  In some markets, job candidates may as well be sending out paper airplanes as submitting hard copy resumes. To avoid such disappointing results, use the following tips to check your technology use and online presence for greater impact from the job search.

E-Mail Basics

Review your e-mail address.  How professional is it? Golf4me@aol.com may be memorable, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Setting up a new e-mail account doesn’t have to be complicated with so many free sites for e-mail addresses available.  A simple e-mail address with your first and last name at free sites, such as AOL, Gmail, or Yahoo! will work well. Bobsmith@aol.com is easy to remember and emphasizes what you want the hiring manager to recall – your name!

It is also critical to avoid using your current work e-mail address.  Use of a work-related e-mail address can convey a number of potentially negative messages, ranging from a perception of impropriety to a sense of naiveté about business matters.  In other words, if you are comfortable receiving e-mails about your resume or job search while at the current job, hiring managers may question your ethics or judgment.  These are not good perceptions to create in the reader’s mind. The associations you want to create include an enthusiasm about meeting you, a feeling that you could fit nicely into their organization, and most importantly, how you can positively impact their bottom line.

Web Presence

Personal Internet sites can strengthen or sabotage a career search.  Even if the CEO or hiring manager isn’t Googling you, it is very likely someone in their office is conducting such a search for them.  It’s becoming common business practice. So, Google yourself first to see what shows up, and then make sure that what is on the web is consistent with the impression you want to convey.

Are you on Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Though a level of caution should be exercised when using these sources, you can make a positive presence utilizing social networking sites. It is not necessary to have a personal website to make a professional presence on the Internet.

Check out alumnae groups, professional organizations, or even the local Chamber of Commerce. Most of these groups have a section for members to post basic information, ranging from contact details to a brief overview of your skills. However, just as with the e-mail address, make sure posts are consistent with the professional presentation of a mini-resume.  Each of these Internet sites should build a comprehensive perception of you as a professional in your field in order to enhance the job search.

Finally, what career sites are you using, if any?  Available sites range from Monster.com to Craigslist. However, indiscriminately posting the resume “everywhere” on the web is unlikely to achieve positive results. The old “shotgun” approach of sending the resume to “everyone” typically delivers a sense of defeat. The lack of response is likely related to where and how the resume is posted.  Make sure the site has the type of positions you are targeting.  Next, review the format of the resume. Does it “translate” well or are those snappy formatting features you included to set your resume apart from the competition preventing a legible upload of the resume? Formatting the resume in an electronic version that another computer can easily read is crucial to success on these job sites.

Technological Tools

For job seekers searching beyond their geographic region, technological gadgets may be necessary to conduct a remote interview. Webcam or Skype for a distance interview may be important tools to consider. Many new computers and laptops have these options built in, but if not, explore other local options. Libraries, for instance, are expanding services available to job seekers. Check and see how extensive the local library’s collection of technological tools may be.  National copy and office chains offer these tools as well. If not, you may be able to pick up a webcam on sale for just a few dollars – definitely worth the investment to be prepared if the hiring manager calls suggesting a remote interview as an option to reduce travel while still getting the interview done.

Getting Help with the Final Review

Adding in the technological component to an already complicated job search may feel overwhelming. If you can’t manage all these issues yourself, look for existing resources – whether it’s your niece, nephew, or the local librarian. That’s the value in using “ready-made” sites, such as the Chamber of Commerce mentioned earlier.  It is not necessary to “re-invent” the wheel to create a positive presence on the web.

Finally, when reviewing the presence you have created on the Internet, try to do so with a critical eye. If this wasn’t your Facebook page, how might you respond to it?  What is that all-important first impression? The first impression is just as critical for an online presence as during the interview.  In fact, that technological first impression may be the important link in obtaining an interview.  Optimizing online tools can garner the kind of attention needed to launch a successful career search. This is the first place many hiring managers are going to review potential candidates, so make sure you get there first and have a positive resource ready.

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!