Ask Vicki: How do you get good professional references?
In this answer on Quora, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells you how to recruit your own proverbial cheerleading squad.
Each week, Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi—a former recruiter who utilizes 15-plus years of experience in recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers—answers user questions on Quora. We’ll be republishing the answers here. If you have a question for Vicki, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. How do you get good professional references?
A. To get good professional references, first identify people who will positively vouch for you. (But remember, just because someone said they’ll vouch for you doesn’t mean they’ll make the best referral.)
The next step—and key to landing solid, reliable professional references—involves a bit of coaching. Once a person confirms that they will be a reference, ask to have a quick phone call.
You need to do this to ensure your references are up to date with your recent accomplishments, skills, and experience. For instance, if you’re calling a boss you haven’t worked for in over five years, they may not know what you’ve been up to since then.
Also, identify the skills you want them to highlight and ensure these skills are crucial to the position you’re seeking (for example, if you’re pursuing an HR job, have your references talk up you superior people skills). Not sure what those skills are? Check the job description to see what's emphasized. Communicate the attributes you’d like your references to focus on so that you’re seen in the best light.