How Should You Select the Right Professional References?

Throughout a job search, engineers put so much time and effort into resumes, cover letters and interview preparation they often forget one of the most important aspects of the job search – choosing the right professional references. Your references can make or break your chances of landing the job. If you think employers don’t check references, think again. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, references are one of the top three criteria hiring managers use to decide who gets the offer. So, how should you select the right professional references who can help you land the job?

The Criteria for Judging a Strong Reference

Anyone you choose to be a reference should meet the following criteria:

  • A job title that gives hiring managers a sense the reference is credible
  • A willingness and ability to say great things about you
  • Recent knowledge of what you do and how well you do it
  • Availability to receive a reference call during normal business hours

Make sure your list has some variety to it. Include former bosses, peers and even supervisees and clients. If you can paint a well-rounded picture of yourself through your references, it will help the hiring manager get a better feel for who you are as a professional and how you’ll fit into the team.

Entry-level engineers will obviously be more limited in their choices, and it is appropriate to include professors, mentors or personal references if you’re just starting out. However, seasoned engineers will need to have a solid list from previous employers. Make your target list as long as possible, because you never know who might refuse to act as a reference.

Always Keep in Contact With Your References

Once you’ve identified your targets, begin the process of reaching out. Always get permission before listing someone as a reference. If they agree, let them know who might be calling them for a reference. Describe the job and the company and make sure you have their most updated contact information and available hours.

Whether you receive an offer or not, reach out to your references after the fact to thank them for their time. Ask how the conversation went and see if you can identify whether someone may have been a less-than-ideal salesperson on your behalf. If you think one of your references may not have spoken highly of you, remove them from the list in the future.

If you did get the job, it’s a nice touch to send the reference a handwritten thank-you note. When you start the job, reach out and thank them again via phone or email. People want to feel appreciated, and your references will be more likely to help you in the future if you are generous with your thanks.

If you are an engineer or technical professional in the Southeast region seeking new opportunities, contact the recruiting experts at Selectek today. We can match you with an opportunity that will help you take the next step in your career, and we can help you select the best references to help you land the job.