Employers don’t get much information about job candidates when they make a hiring decision. They’ll take any data they can find. That’s what makes references so important. Your former employer can confirm pertinent resume information and give an idea of what kind of employee you are.

You’re going to need more than a great resume and a stellar interview performance to land most jobs. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 87% of companies perform background checks, including searches for criminal records. Don’t you think these HR professionals will reach out to your former employers as well?

But how do you make sure you get the best recommendation possible? That depends a lot on how you prepare your references ahead of time. Here are some steps to keep in mind when you ask former employers to be a reference:

7 Tips For Asking For a Reference!

Pick the Best Individual

You don’t get a reference from a company. Rather, you receive it from an individual. Pick the right person from a former employer and you give you the best chance to land your new job.

Ideally, you want someone who worked closely with you and can speak in detail about your work habits. You’ll also want someone who liked and respected you, preferably a direct manager.

Remain Polite and Gracious

No one owes you a reference. Think of the process as a favor. As such, always request, never demand. Keep the tone of your communications polite and gracious.

Ask Ahead of Time

Don’t take your selected reference by surprise. If they get a call or email out of the blue, they might not present the best sales pitch on your behalf.

Rather, warn your contact that a potential employer might reach out to them. Give them pertinent details and points of emphasis. That way, your reference will be prepared to say the right things to get you hired.

Don’t Hesitate to Remind Them Who You Are

When you talk to a past employer, don’t feel bad if the details get a little fuzzy. Your supervisor might have dozens of workers reporting to them. You can’t count on their memory for the details.

Rather, provide a refresher when you make your approach. Let them know when you worked there and some of your accomplishments. This will serve as a cheat-sheet for information you’d like them to repeat to a potential employer.

Create as Little Work as Possible

Again, remember that this is a favor. Make it as easy as possible. The more effort you require of your reference, the more likely they will be to skip it entirely.

Confirm the Contact Info They Prefer

Don’t just blindly use the email address or phone number you have in your contact list. They might prefer a different method. As you ask them to provide a reference, double check all the details so that no messages get lost in transmission.

Stay Connected

Requesting a reference shouldn’t represent a one-time conversation. Take the time to develop a deeper relationship with your contact. Don’t pester them, of course. But a little added attention can lead to a better recommendation.

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