I get comments from people who feel desperate because they have no references even after many years of work. They tell me things like “As I get older most of my former supervisors are either dead or retired.” and even “Most companies refuse to verify or deny that I was ever employed.” You can well understand why they feel frustrated. References are often critical to getting a new job.
While there are things you can do for yourself if you have no references, this is a situation that I would like to help the rest of you prevent. So I want to talk to you about your career, and how to create good references for yourself as you go along — so hopefully you never have to face this situation.
10 things you need to know about creating good references
Job references (as well as job referrals) can come from anywhere – work, organizations you belong to, volunteer experiences, former professors, fellow alumni, etc. You never know when one of the people you’ve met along the way will be in a position to get you in the door for a new job.
The best traditional references are usually bosses you’ve worked for and people you’ve worked with who can speak directly to what you’re like in the workplace. Some tips to help build relationships that can stand the test of time – even if you need to ask for a reference years later:
(1) Each person you work with is a potential reference – or referral.
(2) People remember you for what you do, but even more so for what you do for them.
(3) Each day is a chance to build relationships that can one day help you in your career.
(4) Don’t forget that anyone may also be in a position to hire one day – or wind up working in a company you’re interested in.
(5) Don’t hide in the corner. To be remembered and respected, you need to step forward and accomplish things beyond the expected.
(6) While you don’t want to brag, it’s important to share things you’ve done in natural conversation so others will remember you.
(7) Be someone your boss and co-workers know they can turn to when things get tough.
(8) Be someone who comes prepared with possible solutions when you tell your boss about a problem.
(9) Find ways to add positive things to the work environment and to your co-workers days.
(10) Stay in touch with people even after you leave.
So what does all that mean for you?
Whether a reference is good or bad or offered at all is based solely on the impression you leave. Just doing your job without connecting or making a lasting positive impression can one day leave you wondering why you have no good references.
Imagine if YOU got a call from an employer asking you to recommend someone you know. What kinds of things would make you want to enthusiastically recommend that person? Were they someone who solved problems and added to your day in a good way — or were they always grumbling or finding fault or, more often than not, doing the bare minimum?
We build our future each and every day. Although it’s hard to see that, years later it’s the impression we left behind that decides if a future reference will be good or even there at all. And it’s people we stay in touch with, even if they’ve moved on or retired, who can still be there to offer a reference or even provide job leads.
So what have you done today to help create your future?
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