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Home » Our Take » What would your former cohorts say about you? The power of references.

What would your former cohorts say about you? The power of references.

Posted on July 23, 2015 in Recruiting 101

When I was in my first job out of college, I was under the impression that if I was to move towards another position, I would be a strong candidate. I had a very full resume with internships and skills, and I loved talking to people so interviews were a breeze. However, there was a part of the interview process I completely forgot that, now that I’m here at Three Pillars, have found is a make or break in any offer. That factor is a set of good references.

References are the “product testimonials” that market you as a great candidate for the position you’re applying for. These people shouldn’t, I repeat, should not, be people close to you. Because these are not supposed to be biased in any way. So if you were thinking about putting your grandmother as a reference, that’s probably not a good idea.

The best formula one could use in gathering references, is always focus on those that you report to first, and add your peers second. For example, if you were an account coordinator for a specific client, and you had a great relation with the team lead, that’s a good reference to start with. Good, hard work does not go unnoticed, and team leads are always willing to talk about the contributions their team members have made to make a project successful. After getting the greenlight from your team lead, then ask your peers. Your peers have seen you in a professional, and possibly an informal setting depending on your relationship. Of course, they won’t talk about anything that may go on during a holiday party, but they would mention how you cultivated and fostered colleague relationships.

Once you have your list of references, you have to keep talking with them! The job does not end at gathering the references, you would have to keep them notified if/when they will be contacted by potential employers. They would need to keep tabs on what you’re doing, how you’re doing, and what you could do to make the potential employer better in the long run. This open line of communication is vital to when you are in the final stages of your dream job. This could either push you into the superstar candidate category or the forgettable candidate category. If there’s someone that can support your strong skills and bright personality, and not sound staged or rehearsed, this pushes you towards the top of the employer’s list fast!

When you’re in the working world, your hard work does not go unnoticed. Use that to your advantage by lining up a strong group of people that will vouch for your successes. Keep them up to date on what you’ve been up to, and make sure they know that they’ll be contacted when you’re in the final stages of an interview.