As a serious job seeker, you’ve probably already been asked several times to provide the names and contact information from colleagues and former co-workers who can recommend you to potential employers. You may have even organized these folks into a reference list that you hand out to recruiters when interviewing for jobs. However, if you are not getting much of a response, it’s very possible that you have not asked for the right recommendations, the right way. Here’s how to do this:

Ask people with credentials.  The best references you’ll want to have on your application are those who are leaders in their respective fields. While it’s sometimes OK to get by with former co-workers, you’ll make a better impression by referring to a college professor or a management level person. This is viewed as more professional and you can generally count on these folks to give you an outstanding reference.

Get written letters of recommendation. Instead of merely listing some references for the interviewing person, go a step further and ask for several written letters of recommendation. You can attach these to your resume and in the off chance one of your references cannot be reached, the letter will serve as a reasonable substitute. (Secret: Some hiring managers will not call references if you include a letter!)

Provide some basic information on references. As part of your list of references, take a moment to indicate your relationship to each person, under their name. Simply state “worked with so-and-so at company name for clarification purposes.

Keep contact up-to-date. Over the years, your references need to hear from you on the progress of your future job searches. People move and change phone numbers as well as jobs. Take the time to reach out to your references at least once a year for updates on your reference list. Remove those whom you cannot get in touch with or whom ask to be removed from your list.

Give something back. Once you have received a reference letter or you’ve gotten a job because of the recommendation of another, take a moment to send a nice thank you letter to your reference. Write a recommendation for them too. Sites like LinkedIn offer an easy way to do this.

When you are ready to develop your job search strategy, contact the Jackson MS staffing experts at TempStaff.

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