When your friend puts your resume on the desk of her boss and says, “Jill is the best salesperson I’ve ever met,” that’s not a reference. She never worked with you. It is only a fantastic introduction. So get your friend to do that, and also find real references.
The people you choose as references need to know how well you work. If you provide your pastor, a bowling buddy and your son’s Scoutmaster as references, it will work against you. People who check references want to know how well you work, not how well you sit in church, drink beer or drop off hikers.
When you give people you have not worked with as all of your references, you wave a big red flag in front of your candidacy. The hiring manager will wonder why you have no coworkers you can trust. Isn’t there someone you worked with in the past who can say something nice about you?
Don’t limit yourself to coworkers and bosses. Try these references:
- A secretary or administrative assistant who you constantly worked with
- Suppliers you dealt with extensively, more than just order takers
- Contractors you worked with, supervised, or reported to
- People you sold to
- Salespeople you negotiated with
- The person who always came to you with questions
- A business rival you constantly competed with and sometimes beat
- Someone from where you do a lot of real work as a volunteer
- A teacher (only if you are fresh out of school)
Your current job and previous jobs are your biggest assets in a job search. Use your jobs to prove how well you will work for your new company. The bad news is if you screwed up on two jobs in a row, you are going to have a hard time getting hired. The good news is if you impressed three people at your old jobs, those are the only three you have to give as references.
Something To Do Today
In your job journal list the people you impressed in the last 5 years. Use the suggestions above to add people beyond your coworkers, bosses and subordinates.