Who is going to attest to your qualifications when you’re job searching? Do you have employment references lined up? All too often, workers think about securing positive recommendations only after they have launched a job search. It’s much better to have them in place ahead of time.
In today’s economy, where there is no such thing as a permanent job, you should continuously be positioning yourself for your next opportunity. An important part of this process is developing the type of work relationships which will yield glowing recommendations when you need them.
Here are some tips to consider as you formulate your strategy for getting the best possible set of recommendations.
10 Tips for Getting a Good Employment Recommendation
1. Lay the groundwork for recommendations as soon as you begin each job by concentrating on your work performance. Employees with a clear pattern of success on the job will usually garner the best recommendations.
2. Treat everyone in the workplace with caring and respect. Cultivate positive work relationships with all your co-workers at every level of the organization. People who like you as a person will be more likely to vouch for you during reference checks and less likely to share any damaging information.
3. Attitude is just as important as productivity or competence. Project a positive, “can do” attitude at all times and your references will remember you as a great team player.
4. Pay special attention to the relationships you develop with your supervisors since their word often carries the most weight. Follow through cooperatively with their directives. Show a personal interest in their well-being. Notice when your boss is under the gun and offer to help. Establish an unwavering loyalty and avoid openly questioning her authority. Supervisors are much more likely to issue strong recommendations to supportive subordinates.
5. Recognize that future employers now often look for 360-degree recommendations for prospective staff. Consider all your stakeholders as potential recommenders including customers, clients, suppliers, business partners, board members, colleagues in interfacing departments, and subordinates.
6. Stay in touch with references from past jobs. Reach out to them periodically to update them on your life and work. Show an interest in their personal and professional life. Offer to help them in any way during times of transition.
7. Write a LinkedIn recommendation for anyone who might serve as a reference for you. Test drive potential references by asking them to compose references for you on LinkedIn (after you have done one for them). You will gain insight regarding their willingness and ability to support you as you review what they have said on LinkedIn.
8. Detailed recommendations are often the most impactful ones. Provide documentation to your reference writers that will enable them to be as specific as possible with your references. Make sure that they have a copy of your resume and cover letter, and are aware of the type of job you are applying for. Consider writing a summary of your successes with projects during the period of your association, especially if some time has passed.
9. When you are in job search mode, make sure your references are aware of the employers and jobs you are targeting. Touch base to alert your references when you think that they might be contacted. If you have identified issues of concern on the part of employers during the interview process, fill in your references so they will be prepared for the call.
10. As you specify references for a particular job, consider who will have the best insight about your qualifications for that position. Let the reference know why you have chosen them to represent your qualifications for that job.