Networking 101: How To Establish References

Establishing references can be really difficult, especially when you’re looking for a job and don’t seem to have a strong list of potential references. However, this shouldn’t be neglected because, in many ways, references can make or break our future careers. Related: 5 Things You Should Know About References According to an article on Jobdig.com titled “The Real Purpose of References," references serve as a deal closer for job candidates (and as a job seeker, you definitely want to seal the deal!). Here are some ways you can establish references while you’re looking for a job:


Step 1: Work With What You’ve Got

“Fortunately, references are more about quality than quantity,” said John Higgins, Vice President of Talent Management at Bridgepoint Education. If a candidate is asked to provide three references, job candidates could always reach back to the few people who have seen their work ethic and skills at their best. “They need to think about former supervisors or peers," he said. "If they are less experienced, new to the workforce, or perhaps a recent college grad, they can seek references from professors, civic organizations they may have served in, or from temporary positions they may have held." Higgins went on to say that if you volunteer at an organization or a place of worship, using a spiritual leader or a committee member you’ve worked with a couple of times could also be used as references.

Step 2: Use LinkedIn To Maintain References

“LinkedIn is a great tool to facilitate the ongoing maintenance of contacts and references,” said Higgins. By adding former managers or co-workers, one can easily maintain a relationship with professional colleagues. Keep up to date with their posts, provide them with feedback or even ask them for feedback on your profile. These types of things will help establish a rapport with the people you’ve worked with and even help gain you some endorsements. Higgins added that it's crucial for candidates to maintain and cultivate references throughout their careers. If a candidate is worried about using a dated reference, he or she has to think about the relevance of that reference. “While a more recent reference may seem logical, if that reference is unable to provide the appropriate relevant reference, then the reference being current or not becomes less important,” he said.

Step 3: Prepare Your References

“I always recommend getting in touch with anyone a candidate plans to use as a reference beforehand,” said professional resume writer, Marissa A. Letendre. “They should make sure these individuals are okay with being a reference and let them know that they may be contacted on their behalf.” Prepping your reference(s) will give them a chance to really think about your skills as an employee and what you have to bring to the table. It would be a shame if a potential employer decides not to offer you a job because your reference didn’t provide relevant, positive things about you as a person and a professional.

Step 4: Get Involved To Establish More References

Letendre says that in some instances, when a candidate is trying to reach an older reference, that reference might be “out of touch” with that candidate’s skill(s). To avoid this from happening working on establishing newer references during your job search can help you in the long run. Using your most recent co-workers and managers could work as references or you can start getting involved by doing some volunteer work at one of your local schools, churches or non-profit organizations. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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