A lot can go into a hiring manager’s decision of whether or not to bring you on as their next employee, including your skill set, work experience, personality, and professionalism. While a lot of emphasis and focus is often placed on the above items, sometimes the deciding factor may come down to how effectively your references portray you as the best fit for the hiring manager’s need.

Here are some guidelines to follow when providing professional references to a potential future employer:

  1. Follow the employer’s instructions regarding references – Many job applicants often wonder if they should always include professional references on their resume or application. A good rule of thumb is if a job posting doesn’t request references, then don’t list any references on your resume. When a posting does require references, follow the instructions exactly as listed on the job application. Adhering to an employer’s instructions is always the first step to showing you’re a competent and detail-oriented applicant.
  2. Choose references wisely – Obviously the most important step to selecting a good professional reference is, well, selecting a good professional reference. But which individuals from your work history would make the best references? Your professional references should all have the following qualities:
    1. Genuinely want to see you succeed and do well in your career
    2. Able to answer tough questions about you on-the-fly
    3. Witnessed you demonstrate both hard skills (specific, teachable abilities) and soft skills (interacting effectively with other people) in a work environment
    4. Well-spoken and able to clearly communicate your strengths, expertise, and professionalism in detail
  3. Avoid workplace conflict – If you haven’t announced to your current employer that you’re looking for a new position elsewhere, carefully consider who you list as a reference if any of those references work with you currently. Make sure your coworker can be trusted to keep your search confidential until you decide to make the announcement in your own time.
  4. Ask for permission – Reaching out to your professional references before listing them on a resume or application is not only a polite professional courtesy, but also gives you the opportunity to briefly update them on your recent work history and goals. While most individuals you consider as a reference will be willing to help you out, have a few extra potentials in mind in case one of them politely declines or expresses hesitation. Never make someone feel obligated to serve as your professional reference – their hesitation might be interpreted as negativity when your interviewer gives them a call, skewing your chances of landing the job.
  5. Get updated contact info – Be sure to get updated contact information for all of your references, and verify their information is up-to-date before submitting your resume or application. For each reference, include the person’s name, job title, relationship to you (co-worker, manager, etc.), company name, address, and contact info (at least one phone number and an email address, if possible). Going through the trouble of lining up the perfect reference is wasted time if they can’t be reached.

Occasionally check in with your references and make sure their contact info hasn’t changed. If you know a professional reference you listed has been contacted by your potential employer, it’s OK to thank them with one quick email or phone call for their willingness to help you out. Doing so will reiterate your professionalism and will leave your reference with positive feelings toward you that could potentially shine through in their next conversation with a hiring manager.

ETS Dental is a Dental Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States. www.etsdental.com

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