How To Give AND Get Good References
How to Provide References
References are a key part of any job application. As an applicant, you’ll need to provide at least three references from people who know you well. Select strong references and type up a list containing each reference’s contact information. If you’ve been asked to provide a reference, you should focus on being accurate, whether the reference is positive or negative.
Creating a List of References
Identify relevant references.You want to provide a potential employer with the names of people who can speak highly of you. However, your references need to have relevant information to share. Don’t put down the head of your department as a reference simply because they have an impressive title.
- Former bosses and colleagues make good references. However, if you’re fresh out of school, you can ask volunteer directors, faith leaders, or even professors.
- You also might not want to use former supervisors. Be prepared to explain to the hiring manager why. For example, your older supervisor might not have really managed you, or you didn’t get along. Instead, provide the name of another senior-level person you worked closely with.
Ask for permission to use someone as a reference.Call them up or stop in and tell them you’d like to put them down as a reference. Also check if they can give you a strong reference. Some people are afraid to say “no,” so they might hesitate. Cross them off your list.
- Remember to ask ahead of time, especially if you need a written reference. Give at least two weeks’ notice.
Format your document.You should type up your reference list. Open a blank word processing document and set the font to something comfortable. It should be the same font that you used on your cover letter and resume.
- You should have the same letterhead information at the top of the page. Include your name, address, and contact information. You can take your cover letter and delete everything but the header information.
Include necessary information for each reference.You should have at least three references, preferably from your most recent job. However, you might want to include more, in case the hiring manager cannot reach all of your references.Include the following information for each:
- company name
- business address
- email address
- phone number
- a short description of your relationship
Print on high quality paper.Use the same paper you print your resume on. Ideally, use ivory or white paper and make several copies for an interview. More than one person might be looking at the list.
Submit your references.Unless requested, you don’t need to mail in your reference list with your CV or resume. Also, you shouldn’t write “References upon request” on your resume.Instead, hold onto your references and give them to your interviewer.
- Some fields (such as education) require that you submit references ahead of time. Check the job advertisement to see if references must be submitted before the interview.
Request recommendations on LinkedIn.Go to your profile page and click on the “More” icon. Select “Request a recommendation.” You can request recommendations from three connections at once. You can receive an unlimited number of recommendations in total.
Giving a Positive Reference
Check with your company.Many companies have strict policies regarding references. You need to find out ahead of time if you can give one. Ask Human Resources.
- If company policy prohibits references, you should consider giving a reference in your personal capacity. This means you won’t use the company’s letterhead.
Ask for details.Once you agree to write a reference, ask if you need any information from the candidate. For example, they can provide you with an updated resume.Alternately, they might draw your attention to a project they are particularly proud of.
- Check the deadline. Don’t procrastinate with your references. Starting early gives you a chance to outline your letter and think about what you really want to say.
- Identify the type of reference. For example, you might be providing an employment letter or a character reference for someone. These differ somewhat.
- Ask who will receive the letter. The requester might want a generic letter, or they might need it for a specific job.
Review the person’s performance.Refresh your memory about the person’s strengths and weaknesses. Also take another look at any projects they completed, as well as their performance reviews.
- If, after review, you realize you can’t provide a strong reference, then you should tell the requester.
Format your reference letter.Set up your reference letter as a standard business letter. You should print it on company letterhead, so leave room at the top of the first page. Subsequent pages do not need to be on letterhead.
- Ask the requester who you should address the letter to. If it’s a generic letter to use more than once, you can use “To Whom It May Concern.”
Identify your relationship with the candidate.In the first paragraph, you need to identify yourself and how you know the candidate. For example, you may have been someone’s direct supervisor. If you no longer work with the person, state that information as well.
- For example, you can write, “I enthusiastically recommend Ellie Smith for the position of project manager. During the four years I supervised her at the Department of Health and Human Services, Ellie impressed me with her commitment and problem-solving skills. Although she has not worked for me in two years, I still remember the positive impact she made.”
Describe exceptional skills.A positive reference must be concrete. You need to identify skills or abilities that make the candidate a great person to hire. This might require some brainstorming on your part. For example, think about times the person really pulled through for you. What skills did they rely on?
- Many employers are looking to hire people with excellent communication skills.Accordingly, you should mention how well the person writes and verbally communicates, if possible.
- If you’re writing a character reference, then you should identify traits instead of skills. For example, you might have been asked to write a reference letter for a friend who is looking to adopt. In this situation, you can highlight their patience, comfort with children, and stability.
Provide examples and detail.Your reference cannot be a string of conclusions. Instead, you need to support your statements with detail. It’s okay to say, “Terri is a tremendous worker,” but it’s better to explain why you think Terri is dedicated.
- For example, you can write something like this: “Terri is a tremendous worker. During the first six months, she did the work of two people when her co-worker was out on maternity leave. Terri came into the office on Saturdays and stayed late most days of the week. For example, when a client needed an emergency presentation, she was able to pull it together in about a week when two or three weeks is standard.”
- Remember to tell the truth. You might be excited to help someone out. Nevertheless, your glowing recommendation must be factual.Make sure you can back up everything you say with evidence, such as stellar performance reviews.
Conclude your reference letter.Sum up your impressions of the candidate and enthusiastically recommend them for the job. Include your phone number or email so that the hiring manager can call you with follow-up questions.
Revise your letter.A poorly-written letter reflects badly on you and the candidate. Put the letter aside for a couple days and then analyze it afresh. Rewrite awkward sentences and provide more detail if necessary.
- Proofread it to catch typos, missing words, etc. Also ask someone else to read the letter. A second set of eyes can catch small errors.
- When the letter is finished, print it off and sign it. Hold onto a copy for your records.
Give an oral reference instead.Often, a letter isn’t necessary. Instead, the candidate will put your name down on a list and the hiring manager will call. You should still prepare by reviewing the person’s resume and performance evaluations.
- If the manager asks something you don’t know, then say so. For example, you might be asked about the person’s salary when you didn’t have access to that information.
- Some hiring managers might try to obtain information they shouldn’t. For example, they might ask questions about the candidate’s religion or marital status. You should decline to answer questions of this nature, since they are illegal.
- You are likely to be asked about a person’s weaknesses in a telephone call. Identify something that the person has worked to correct. For example, you can say, “Terri didn’t have much experience working with spreadsheets when she started, but she took several courses.”
Handling Negative References
Try to get out of providing a negative reference.If you can’t give someone a positive reference, then try to decline. This can be difficult. You might never have been honest with the person that you didn’t think they were a good employee and now you find it difficult to let them know.
- Claim to be too busy. Apologize but state you’re swamped and can’t handle a reference right now. This is a good excuse if you’re asked to write a reference.
- If the person no longer works with you, gently remind them that more recent employers would make better references.
- Ideally, you will simply say, “I’m sorry, I can’t give you a positive reference, John” or something to that effect. This puts the person on notice that they shouldn’t put you down as a reference.
Agree to provide basic information.You can always agree to provide only basic information. This is the easiest information to provide and protects you legally from a lawsuit. For example, agree to provide only the following:
- job titles
- dates of employment
- final salary
Consult with an attorney.Some employers have been sued for defamation for providing negative reviews which cost someone a job. Defamation is a false statement that intentionally harms someone’s reputation.If a bad employee has asked for a reference, you should meet with your lawyer.
- If your business doesn’t have a lawyer, then get a referral from your local or bar association.Ask for a lawyer who specializes in labor and employment.
- Discuss your options with the lawyer. Your options will be limited based on the law in your area.
Be accurate.Truth is a defense to defamation, so you can protect yourself by always being accurate. Look through the employee’s performance reviews and personnel file to see if there are notes about the employee’s bad behavior. This evidence can help back up what you are writing.
- The hiring manager is also entitled to an accurate reference. In fact, if you commit a misrepresentation, you could be sued.For example, you can’t accidentally claim an employee was a supervisor when she wasn’t.
Have the candidate sign a release.You can protect yourself legally by requiring the candidate to sign a release of liability. You can find samples online. With a release, the person agrees not to hold you responsible if they don’t get the job.
- The key language in a release is the following: “I hereby release ABC Corporation, and its employees and officers, from any claims, damages, or liabilities of any kind, that may directly or indirectly result from the release, use, or disclosure of such information by any person or party arising from the employment reference.”
Draft a company reference policy.Your employees should know your reference policy. Draft one and publish it in your employee handbook or manual. For example, you might create a company policy only to provide basic information about employment unless the person signs a waiver form.
- Consult with a labor and employment lawyer to discuss the ideal policy for your company.
- For example, you might want all references to come through one person in Human Resources.This person should enter reference requests in a log so that you can track them.
Video: Using APA style for references and citations
Roseanne Blames Ambien for Her Racism, But Doctors Arent Having It
Tools All Home Cooks Should Own
A New Technique Allows Surgeons to Operate on the Tiniest Patients
Carb Cycling: Everything You Need To Know About The Pro-Pasta Diet Plan
Samantha Cameron faces criticism from PETA
How to Cool Cakes
3 Chic Holiday Hairstyles Tutorials: Updo Hair Styles
Skin Icing: How This Chilly Facial Beautifies Skin
This Tahoe Ski Retreat Is Your Ultimate Bachelor Pad In The Snow
Money Mistakes Worth Making