Every job is an important stepping stone in building a long, successful career. Potential employers look to your past managers for information about your work ethic, charisma, and professionalism. The importance of maintaining a solid relationship with your old business contacts cannot be overlooked, because it could mean the difference between whether or not you land the job. Usually three previous references is the standard, and this should not include friends of relatives—stick to your professional contacts. For employees who are entry-level, consider asking a teacher, coach, or a successful family friend. Often times landing a job comes down to strength of references, so the importance of this step should never be overlooked. Check out these tips for maintaining your professional references.
1.) Work Ethic
The first step in maintaining your professional references is always to focus on being punctual, building a positive reputation in the workplace, and creating an excellent relationship with your superiors. Focus on work ethic. Some employees call in sick regularly, break company rules and protocol, or even flat out no call no show for their shift. They are burning their bridges for short term gratification. However, these workers fail to realize the potential damages of this type of behavior. Work hard, pay attention to detail, and do everything in your power to make your managers happy. They will be the ones who are ultimately responsible for telling your next employer whether or not they should hire you. It all starts with proving that you have a solid work ethic.
2.) Social Media
Facebook and LinkedIn are two excellent resources for building and maintaining excellent references. In fact, potential employers will often view these profiles as part of routine scanning processes. It mitigates the risk of hiring a bad employee. LinkedIn provides excellent visibility into past work experience, and your work connections even have the opportunity to verify the job skills that you list on your profile. Reach out to old connections and try to gather as many positive references as you can. Focusing on your social media presence can have a significant impact on the strength of your job application. Lacking a solid LinkedIn or Facebook presence can be a huge red flag for hiring managers. It looks like there is something to hide.
3.) Letters of Recommendation
Any time you build an excellent relationship with a manager, teacher, coach, etc., you should always consider asking for a letter of recommendation. The more the merrier. If you have a few people with strong business credentials on your side, it can have a significant impact on the overall strength of your job application. These letters can be gathered ahead of time and stored for later use. Just make sure that you keep contact with these references and stay on good terms.
4.) How important are References?
Almost all jobs require references as part of a routine background check process. It’s necessary for screening candidates. Typically references don’t come into play until later in the application process when only the short list of potential candidates remain. This is when the process gets competitive. Focusing on building a solid network of references can make a huge difference on whether or not you land the job. Including letters of recommendation are not a requirement, but tacking them onto your application can really help. It will solidify your references.