References are an integral part of your application packet. Your résumé lists your qualifications—your references bring them to life. How do you effectively select and prepare references for each application? We have four guidelines:
Consider the position. Just as you should customize your cover letter for each individual position, you should enlist references that enhance the qualifications that make you best-suited to the position.
Always ask. Don’t assume that because someone has been a reference in the past that he or she is willing to do so again. Gain permission—and express your gratitude—each time.
Give background. Explain the position you are applying for and why you selected him or her as your reference. Your goal is to make being a reference a minimal imposition to your colleague. “Thank you so much! I asked you because we worked together on securing the Ritter contract and you have knowledge of my client-relations experience. You should expect a call or email in the next two weeks.”
Offer reciprocity. Offer to be a reference or write a LinkedIn endorsement for associates who have helped you in the past as well as those you may call on in the future.