Most job seekers write, “References available upon request” on the bottom of their resume. What is the benefit of that? By learning how to use referrals and references, it can help you stand out in the crowd.
1. The first step is to think of people who might give you references – current and former colleagues, college professors, friends or athletic teammates. Joining a trade association or a networking group can also lend itself to getting references.
2. When you identify potential references, contact them by phone or ask them in person. This way you can better recognize their willingness to give you a referral or reference. Be sure to prepare your requests, and remember that each person and situation is different and may have different reasons to say yes, no or maybe.
If a person says they will write you a letter, be thankful, but understand that your request will typically not be on top of their “to do list”. Let them know you appreciate their willingness to help even though they may be very busy.
3. To speed along the process, offer your references a suggestion: Offer to e-mail them some of your accomplishments you feel they might mention. Emphasize that they can add upon or eliminate any details. All they have to do is send you their corrections and you will make a letter out of their collective comments.
You will then send them “the final letter” and all they have to do is sign it and send it back to you. This process has proven valuable for many people and should hopefully give you similar results. Make sure to keep these people aware of what is happening with your job search, and if you give their name to an employer who may call.
Now how do you stand out in the crowd during interviews?
Get a professional-looking binder and put each letter in a plastic sleeve. Get at least five individual letters (and make copies)…the more the better. These letters can also be included with your professional portfolio if you have one.
Additionally, you should include a separate sheet of your reference/referral names and contact information including their title, relationship to you, length of time known, phone number(s) and email address. During the interview you should hand over your reference sheet and/or letters of recommendation, noting, "I would like to show you what some of the people I have worked with think of me." or something you may be more comfortable saying. At the end of the interview, make sure to leave copies of your recommendation letters with the interviewer for reference.
When writing thank-you letters, be sure to include your reference list again. The interviewer(s) may have seen many other potential candidates since you. You should also send a thank-you note to the company’s receptionist noting how you appreciated the opportunity to interview with (name of person who interviewed you). Very likely, the receptionist will show it to that person, thus making you once again - STAND OUT IN THE CROWD.