They can be the difference-maker in employment. When it comes to references, do sweat the small stuff.
For a real-life illustration of a referenceâ€™s importance, consider â€œAlexâ€™sâ€ example:
â€œAlex Partainâ€ thought his resume and interviews went well with a Fortune 100 technology company. Even in a recession, he blew past most of his friends and secured seven interviews, including final-stage interviews at five companies. Information security positions pay well over $100,000, and with a solid background in the very latest in information security, why shouldnâ€™t the offers flow? But what happened next left Alex in the lurch, confused and looking for answers.
â€œI honestly could not believe it,â€ Alex says now. â€œI got a serious wake-up call about references. It probably cost me thousands upon thousands of dollars in terms of months lost. I lost out on every single interview I had secured in a mere month. It wasnâ€™t until a third-party recruiter ferreted out the facts about my references that I found out what was going on. What was happening was basically my own hand-picked references were not prepared properly, did not give me glowing reviews and hurt me. But all in all, it was more my fault then theirs. I did not prepare them or myself.â€
The North Carolina-based executive job seeker found out some ugly truths about references.
Here is what happened. He gave his two weeksâ€™ notice, but left his company two weeks before one of the companyâ€™s most important engagements. He provided his references the proper notice they needed to prepare a quick, positive paragraph on company letterhead and write a sentence or two on LinkedIn. But that wasnâ€™t all. Mr. Partain left his current company with a bit of a cloud over his head. â€œMy colleagues never received a current resume from me,â€ Mr. Partain says. â€œThat was a mistake. I also left them a little short on a key project. That left my key references a bit angry.â€
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