A great reference can be the difference that determines whether you get that position. Rather than rushing your reference and relying on their goodwill, make sure that you keep your references “warm” as you embark on your job search. You certainly don’t want them to be called out of the blue, being asked to talk about you, when you haven’t been in contact with them for years.
The key thing to remember here is, that your references are PEOPLE who are probably happy to help you land the job so long as they do not feel that they are being disrespected or taken advantage of.
Keep these tips regarding your references in mind as you undergo your job searching process:
Contact your reference(s) before you submit their name(s) to an employer and ask whether they permit being contacted directly.
This makes it easy for you to inform your potential employer that they may contact your references. In the event that your reference has not clearly permitted being directly contacted, ask the employer to give you an opportunity to give your references a “heads up” that they should be expecting a call. While this is an additional step for the employer, it shows that you respect your contacts.
Notify your reference(s) when your begin and end your job pursuit.
In addition to keeping them informed as to the status of your search, it could also open you up to other resources (if your reference has contacts that can also advocate for your candidacy or knows of similar opportunities, for example). Additionally, if you are certain of the time frame of when they will be contacted, notify them of that time frame. Letting them know when your pursuit has been completed also crosses off another concern from their list of things to keep in mind. Keep them updated on your situation!
Thank your reference(s).
Be sure to convey your thanks and gratitude when your reference agrees to serve as a reference, and take the time to thank them again for serving as a reference (even if you don’t get the job). Of course, if you land the job, inform your reference and definitely thank them.
The key takeaway is to make sure that your reference does not feel as if their assistance was not important to you. Contact them ahead of time, keep them notified, and thank them.