References play a big role in the hiring process. Typically, references are the last step before a job offer is made. The company has sat down with you in an interview, and had you discuss your skills and qualifications. Now that they’ve heard from you, they want to hear from an impartial party. The role of these people in your job search shouldn’t be understated. Acting as a reference is a big favor, so you should make sure you do all you can to prepare your references for when they may be contacted. Today we’ll discuss the importance of notifying your references and why you should keep in communication with them.
Asking Permission > Begging For Forgiveness
Obviously step one with references is initially asking permission. Before you list them on your resume, you should make sure they are comfortable acting in that capacity for you. If you don’t ask, and they receive a call, they will likely be incredibly unprepared, and perhaps slightly annoyed that you didn’t tell them. So before you can even think about notifying them down the road, it’s important to start by getting their permission. This gives them a notice, and also starts the relationship off on the right foot. They will respect that you asked ahead of time, and also be more mentally prepared for a call in the future.
However, there could be a significant amount of time between when you ask permission and when they receive that call. If you have references from previous places of employment, they may not remember you too well. If you are beginning your job search again, it could have been a year or more since you were last in touch. It’s also possible that you’ve changed career paths since then. The important point here is a lot can change in that amount of time. So if they receive a call, they may not be as prepared as they could be. A great way to alleviate this is by notifying them.
Whenever you start a new job search, it’s smart to reach out to these references and give them an update. Whatever the preferred means of communication is, reach out. Let them know you’re beginning your search again, and consider sending them a copy of your resume. This is a good reminder that they may be called, and now they also have a document to reference regarding your career history. It’s up to you how in depth you want to explain your search.
The important thing is they’ve been notified, and will be more prepared to act in that capacity as a reference. If they hadn’t been reminded, it’s entirely possible they would struggle to remember you and speak to your qualifications when they’re called. This would make you look bad to the hiring company. Notifying your references is mutually beneficial for both parties. They aren’t caught off guard by a call, and you look better because they can more accurately talk about you. By notifying your references, everyone wins. Don’t be a stranger to the people who will be advocating for you, and your job search will be all the better for it!