• Susie Wilson

The Art of Modern Etiquette: The Power of Referrals

Modern Etiquette The Power Of Referrals. At a recent networking breakfast, I was reminded of an important—yet little discussed—aspect of referral etiquette, a concept that warrants further discussion.

Referrals are the #1 source of hires globally recent research shows that ‘referral’ hires not only stay in their jobs longer but that they perform better over the long term. 

When you’re applying for a new job, there’s a good chance that you’ll spend hours poring over every bullet point on your résumé, and spend even more time writing and rewriting your cover letter. How much time do you spend prepping your list of references? While most of us stress over other details—our outfits, our interview questions, our handshake—many of us likely don’t give nearly the same level of detail to the process of asking people to vouch for our professional accomplishments. Given that the strengthening job market means more hiring opportunities: Over a third of companies in a recent CareerBuilder survey report that they expect to hire full-time, permanent staff in 2018—that’s the brightest outlook since 2006. And a glowing reference could be what gives job hunters the edge they need to shine over the competition, especially in today’s corporate culture where there’s a lot at stake if you hire a poor fit.

The wrong people are hired all the time, and it costs a lot of money.

”Bad hiring also ruins careers. And much of this could be eliminated if reference checks were handled better.” So whether you’re a job seeker looking to foster the right reference relationships—or you’re acting as a reference and want to make sure you’re helping, not hurting, someone’s chances—here’s how to ace job reference etiquette. My top 6 Ways to Pick and Prep Proper References

Résumés and interviews may do most of the heavy job-hunting lifting for you, but hiring managers take them with a grain of salt: 58% have caught a lie on a résumé, and 33% have seen an uptick in résumé “embellishments” since the recession.

Enter your references, who can help verify that you’re the superstar you say you are. But how can you ensure that your references will actually help you get the job—and make sure you’re not burning any bridges with them along the way? 1. Choose people with whom you’re friendly but not too friendly.

With social media taking a larger role in the background-checking process, hiring managers aren’t just looking at your profile—they may also be digging into your references’ online personas to make sure they are reputable. “It’s important to not only look over your own sites to ensure a prospective employer isn’t viewing any inappropriate or private commentary, but also give your references’ sites a quick glance [with that same eye],” So you might not want to pick someone who has his bachelor party plastered on Facebook—or even someone with whom you’ve taken a ton of innocuous, but still personal, photos. After all, your prospective employer doesn’t want biased feedback from a reference who appears to be a close friend. On the flip side, a contact who has given you an online work shoutout could help your cause: Among hiring managers who hired candidates because of their positive social media, 30% said they did so because other people posted great references for them. 2. Make the reference request in person.

Email is a perfectly acceptable form of professional communication in most cases, but when it comes to asking someone to be a reference, do it in person—or at least over the phone—to improve the chances that you get buy-in. “Make a list of the people you’re likely to ask to be a reference now, while you’re still in your current job, and invite them to lunch or call them to reconnect, “Ask these colleagues for career advice and engage them in brainstorming around work issues—it’ll make them feel personally invested in your success.”Calling or meeting in person has another benefit.”

“It’s a great opportunity to review your past responsibilities and remind that person of the successes you achieved when you worked together.

 “A quick chat can also help you gauge whether or not the reference will be glowing.”

3. Don’t tire your references out

Just the way you wouldn’t want to overstay your welcome in someone else’s home or annoy a friend by calling in too many favours, you also don’t want to overwhelm your references with repeated requests. I also suggest using the same reference no more than three times. “It’s a time commitment, and you don’t want to disrespect your former coworker’s time by putting that person in a position where that colleague resents talking about your skill set, “You’re probably not the only one using them as a reference.” 4. Give your reference as much intel as possible

Just because you got the “yes” from your ex-boss agreeing to be a reference doesn’t mean you can leave her hanging once the résumés go out. To make the process as seamless for them as possible, whenever you know a hiring manager is ready to reach out, give your references as many details as you can, including the type of position you’re applying for, and who might be calling. Another to-do? Verify how your reference would like to be contacted—she or he may, for instance, prefer an email first to set up an appointment, rather than getting a cold call. Also, check with your prospective employer whether they will, in fact, be calling versus sending an electronic reference request, which has become more popular. Your reference might prefer a quick phone—if that’s the case, consider reaching out to the hiring manager and ask if it’s possible to make a call instead.

5. Format your reference list comprehensively

The standard list of names and contact info is no longer sufficient for hiring managers these days—you should also include exactly which attributes which reference can attest to.

Why? In a world where a hiring manager might spend 30 seconds skimming résumés, this approach can help further showcase your specific achievements. When you offer a reference list at the conclusion of an interview in a highly professional format, it can create a proactive and favourable impression. Not only that, if your hiring managers know exactly which skills your reference can speak to, they’ll waste less time asking him or her questions that one can’t answer. 6. Always follow-up with a thank you. 

You probably send the hiring managers a thank-you note after an interview, so why not add your references to the list? “Each time your reference supports you with a new, prospective employer, send them a personal thank-you note—or, at a minimum, an e-mail. Better yet, place a gift card into your note, or offer to take your reference out to lunch. Not only is it a good way to show your appreciation, but you can also fill them in on how your job hunt is going.

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