By Gerrit Hall
"Will you vouch for me?"
If you're a job seeker, you've probably asked that question at one point. After all, what is more valuable than someone agreeing that, yes, in fact, you are the best employee for the job?
Your landlord probably asked for a reference, the local coffee shop wants one too, and the large firm where you'd like to get your foot in the door wants three.
Considering that references are so valuable, I think it's time to share three important bits of info about them:
1. There's a vocabulary.
If you've ever had someone vouch for you, you probably called them your reference. After all, that's what the employer says and just about everyone else. However, this isn't exactly correct.
Strictly speaking, the person who vouches for you is the referee while you are the referent. The reference is the actual information given to an employer. Unless your referee is a real stickler for semantics, this probably won't come up. However, it's good information to have on hand.
2. They don't like surprises
How would you like it if someone were to call you and quiz you about someone you worked with some time ago? You probably wouldn't like it. The same goes for the people who vouch for you. Prevent any surprise-induced mishaps by following this two-step process:
- Ask the person before you submit their information as a referee.
- Hold onto their information until an employer asks for it, then give your referee a head's up that a call might be coming.
Add this to the long list of reasons why your resume should never include reference information. This makes it oh-so-easy for prospective employers to call up your referees whenever they see fit. Trust me, they will.
3. Help them help you.
As you progress in your career, you'll probably start serving as a referee for your colleagues. As much as you want to, there's only so much information that you'll be able to remember when that fated phone call comes in from Mr. Bob from XYZ Inc.
Instead of leaving your referees in a pinch to find good information to share about you, give them a cheat sheet. Your resume is excellent for this purpose. Your referee will be able to study up on your career goals, experience and skills without having to scour your LinkedIn page.
What do you think? What else should job seekers know about references? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Gerrit Hall is the CEO and co-founder of RezScore, a free web application that reads, analyzes and grades resumes -- instantly. Hall has successfully combined his passion for computer science and the careers space by helping job seekers write the best resume possible. You can connect with Hall and RezScore on Facebook and Twitter.
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