It makes good business sense – and respectful professional etiquette – to stay in touch with your former bosses, as your efforts to stay connected with past employers could pay dividends many times over when they provide you with favorable professional references.
Given the ongoing upheaval in the nation’s job market, this timely advice comes from Heidi Allison, Managing Director of Allison & Taylor, the nation’s oldest professional reference checking firm. “If you were planning to hire someone and his or her former boss did not return your call looking for a professional reference, what message would that convey? In today’s highly competitive job market, people pay so much attention to their resumes and interview skills but, unfortunately, many fail to nurture their professional references that can make or break a successful job search.”
The most important rule for job seekers is to never leave your professional references to chance. If you are not 100 percent convinced that your professional references and past employers will relay positive comments about you to prospective employers, consider having them checked out. A professional reference-checking firm can either put your mind at ease, or supply you with the critical information and evidence that may be blocking your job search efforts.
So, what happens if a professional reference is indeed providing unfavorable or inaccurate information on a candidate to a prospective employer? Note there are indeed available remedies for such situations.
“Our firm hears poor to bad references on a daily basis,” says Allison. “We work with clients to explore the options available to them to assure their professional references portray them in the best light possible. The key is to first know what people are saying about them and then proactively addressing the situation as necessary.”
To enhance the chances of always landing the next job one wants, Allison suggests job seekers of all professional backgrounds follow these “Golden Rules of Job Reference Etiquette”:
Click through for the five golden rules of reference etiquette from Heidi Allison, managing director of Allison & Taylor.
Call your former bosses and ask them if they are willing to provide favorable job references on your behalf. As an additional courtesy, offer them an update on your career.
Let your references know each and every time you give out their contact information and thank them for their efforts.
Keep your positive references informed of your career and educational progress. They will be more inclined to see you in a stronger light as you progress.
Note that spending time communicating with your prospective employer takes valuable time from your references’ workdays. If you plan to use these positive references over the years, you need to give something back. For instance, each time your reference supports you with a new prospective employer, send them a personal thank-you letter or (at a minimum) an e-mail. Better still, send a thank-you note with a gift card for Starbucks, or offer to take your former boss to lunch/dinner.
If you win the new position, call or e-mail your former boss and thank them again for their support. Also, let them know your new contact information.