The references that you include in your resume when applying for a job that you really want are so valuable. Putting a name of a reference who cannot be reached can definitely cost you the job you’re trying to get. As a matter of fact, most hiring managers use the provided references as a basis for choosing between equally experienced and skilled job applicants.

Before we talk about the things you should do to ask for a reference, you should understand first what you should NOT do. These are the following:

• Do not use the same references for all the jobs you are applying for. There will be some references who actually know more about the skills you want to highlight compared to your other references.

• Do not include references in your resume unless you are asked to do so. It is important that you have an idea when the hiring manager would call your references so you could at least let them know about it.

• Do not assume that your references actually know what they should say. Make sure that your chosen references really want to help you get the job. It is advisable also that you give them an idea of what they need to say.

Now here are the things you should do when asking for a good reference:

• Carefully consider the job you are applying for. Determine what abilities and skills you will be asked about by the employer. You also want to know what the company culture is like and what style of communication is used in the organization. You should know if an email, a call or even a formal mailed request will be used to contact your references.

• Think about who you think would be the most qualified person to talk about your skills to the potential employer. Obviously, not all your references would know every single skill that you have. Thus, you should pick the references who know about your skills that are required for the job you are applying for.

• Make an effort to speak to your references either by phone or in person. It would be rude to ask a favor like this by writing an email. You have to show some respect to your references and personally make the request.

• Provide your references with a copy of your resume and the job announcement for the position you are applying for. This way, they will be better prepared to answer the questions that they will be asked.

Make sure that you send a thank you note to your references for their effort and willingness to help you out with your career planning. You don’t have to wait for them to be called by your potential employer to thank them. The mere fact that they agreed to be your reference is enough reason for you to appreciate them.

Author's Bio: 

Cecile Peterkin is a certified career and retirement coach, and a registered member of the Career Professionals of Canada and the International Coach Federation. She is also the Founder and Senior Career Strategist at Cosmic Coaching Centre, provider of career and life management services for middle managers and mid-career professionals across Canada, United States and Europe.