Your resume is perfect. Your cover letter is a work of art. And your interview skills are top notch. But one of the most important factors in your job search is one you don’t have direct control over: your references.
CareerBuilder found that 80% of employers say they contact references before hiring new employees, and 69% said they had changed their minds about a candidate after talking to a reference. So if your professional references aren’t singing your praises, your job search could stall.
What do employers want from your references? More than a third hope to get a better idea of your past job duties and experience, an OfficeTeam survey found, and 31% want to know more about your strengths and weaknesses. Smaller shares are looking to confirm dates of employment, learn more about your past on-the-job accomplishments, or find out about your preferred work culture.
Unfortunately, many job seekers have references who aren’t able to provide the information employers want. And then, of course, there are those whose comments hurt rather than help. Neither option serves you well.
“You want to make sure you are including your biggest cheerleaders among your job references,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. “Before choosing someone, ask yourself, ‘Did this person understand my full scope of responsibilities? Can he or she vouch for my skills, accomplishments and work ethic?’ You also want to make sure that you ask your former colleagues if you can list them as a reference. If someone is unwilling, it helps you to avoid a potentially awkward or damaging interaction with an employer of interest.”
With that in mind, when you put together your reference list, make sure these nine people aren’t on it.