Choosing Job References Wisely

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Many jobseekers think about their references only when they are in the offer stage. But the proactive jobseeker uses references as a marketing tool. The right references can push an average finalist to frontrunner. Furthermore, even the happily content employee should be proactive and have a list of references ready for three purposes:

1) in this market you might unexpectedly become a jobseeker;

2) you can use references as testimonials to argue for that bonus or promotion, not just a new job; and

3) what your references say and your ability to compile good references serve as an audit of your career to date. If you don’t have a ready list of references, it is a signal to more closely manage your career.

Here are 3 tips as you compile your reference list:

Confirm that your references want to give you a reference. Call them and ask what they would say. Coach them if you want them to talk about your analytical skills or your management potential. If they haven’t worked with you for awhile remind them exactly what you worked on.

Confirm the name, title and contact info of your references. Find out how they wish to be contacted and give them advance notice if you can about who will be calling and when.

Have references who are your peers as well as who report into you. Most people only list supervisors or people above them who have managed their work. Yes, you will need those references. However, the more experienced the candidate, the more likely that a reference check will encompass various reporting levels. Peers can tell an employer how a candidate was perceived by colleagues and how effective a team player the candidate was. Direct reports give insight into a candidate’s management style. References at different levels give an employer a more comprehensive view of the candidate. When I worked in retained search I insisted on all three types of references: supervisors, peers and direct reports.

Your Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Posted in category Job Interview
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In a survey by CareerBuilder, recurring examples of offensive interview mistakes are shared.

Here are some of the faux pas to avoid:

Tell the interviewer all the ways your previous employer made you mad and how miserable you were in his employ.
Be sure to eat all the treats and candy the interviewer has sitting on his desk while you are speaking with him.
Blow your nose. Do it loudly and then put the tissues on the interviewer’s desk. Leave it there when you leave, of course.
Wear your favorite hat sporting the words “You can take this job and shove it.”
See that you have put your empty beer can in the trash can in the reception area before you meet with the prospective employer.
Rehearse your friend on coming into the interview room and demanding to know when you’ll be finished in there.
When your cell phone rings, answer it right away and if you think of something you forgot to say to that caller, just text it there on the spot.
Wear a pair of those popular jeans you can buy that already have holes in them. They are in fashion now, after all.
Keep a blank look on your face. Answer questions in a monotone. Do not look into the manager’s eyes when you speak and do not look at him when he is talking to you.
Act like you know everything and do not need to hear what is being said to you.
Say something really derogatory about your current or past employer.
Chew gum. They say it makes your brain work more efficiently.
Keep your responses vague. Don’t give out much relevant information.
Avoid answering the actual question that is asked and deliver some other stuff you want to cover in the interview.

These mistakes may seem the obvious ones you would never make. Some of them seem completely ridiculous. The fact is that some candidates are still making these errors.

Even though job seeking is frustrating, keep in mind that although competition will remain high for months to come you can stay positive. How? Focus on your strengths. Believe in yourself. Keep a professional attitude of mind. One great way to prepare is to anticipate the questions you will encounter and practice answering them. You know your industry and what is expected in that industry.