By Mel Sim

References will either make or break your chance of landing that job…

You’ve got the right qualifications, meet all the requirements of the job. Your resume looks solid and you’re good to go… until you get to the part of the job application that says, “Please list down two references.”

Ahhhh…. References. There are pros and cons to them. The pro is that references act like your wing buddy. You can promote yourself all you want but your interviewer is more likely to believe what your reference has to say about you, especially if it is someone with credibility like an ex-boss. After all, would you rather believe the review from someone who bought the product or the salesman? The same goes for references.

Unfortunately, you can’t control what your reference says about you. Some references are a little more forthcoming… and have no qualms sharing your weakness with your future employer. “Yeah, she’s a little bit tardy when it comes to submitting her work so you need to be hard on her when it comes to meeting deadlines.” Yikes!

The good news is you can pick who you want to list as your reference! So you better pick right to give you a better chance of being hired.

Who to pick and how? Here are a few things to consider:

#1 Pick someone whom you’ve worked closely with and had a good working relationship with
This goes without saying. For a solid reference who will give you a glowing endorsement, go with someone who’ve worked with you and has seen your capability in your role. Like a colleague whom you worked day and night to complete that important project. Bonus point if it is a more senior colleague who will have more clout. Who not to pick in this instance? The intern or junior executive. Recruiters would prefer to hear from someone more senior who has more work experience in the industry rather than someone with lesser years of experience than you who wouldn’t be a good judge of your skills.

#2 Should you list your boss?
Yes… and no. Yes if you had a good relationship with your ex-boss. Notice we said ex-boss. Because you don’t want to list your current boss as a reference if you are looking for a new job while employed! Imagine how awkward it would be for your boss to share what he thinks of your work ethics…and finding out at the same time that you’re thinking of changing jobs!

#3 Try to have two different reference type
As in one who can talk about you on a more personal level and one who knows your working style better. So it will be good to have a work peer as reference #1 and a senior colleague or manager as reference #2. This way, the person calling both will have a more holistic view of you not only as an employee but also as an individual.

#4 Make sure you ask for permission
OK so you’ve sorted who you are going to ask as your reference. Don’t let them be caught by surprise with that phone call from your future employer. Make sure your reference knows that you’ve listed them as the person to call so that they are prepared. You can start by asking if the person is willing to be your reference and then explain a little about the job you’re applying for. Then slip in a little bit of info on why you think you’re the person for the job and if your reference can help back this up with some examples or previous experience with you. See how that works in your favour?

#5 Finally, do you need to list your reference in your resume?
The answer? It’s a no. You are under no obligation to list any reference in your resume, not even that one liner “References available upon request.” That’s because if the hiring manager really wants a reference, he or she will ask for them.

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

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