References and Testimonials for Career Success

In this day and age of networking, resources, and sharing connections with one another the best way to build creditability and career success is to formalize and organize your references. It is a career requirement to have at least 3-5 current and engaging references, which can speak to and highlight your accomplishments. A reference is someone who believes in you and your past performance and can effectively convey that to someone else.

It is recommended to review your past positions, jobs, and client projects and evaluate who would be the best people to approach and encourage them to be a reference. I find it is valuable to explain the reason for having a reference and engaging with them as a win win approach. As they support and contribute to you, you in turn contribute to them. References provide a three dimensional view of your work history, your results and your interaction with colleagues. Being able to maintain connection and positive memory of you and your work is an important and worthwhile skill as a professional. Take time now to identify your top 3-5 references whom you can contact this week to speak on your behalf.

The importance of references isn’t simply to speak about what you have done for former employers or clients but also to align with and build creditability by people who speak on your behalf. When someone is looking to hire two equally qualified candidates they are looking at references as one way to delineate and choose the better candidate. When you provide a person for an employer to contact you are extending what they say about you, and they lend their name and reputation to you. People want to be associated with and hire folks that reflect positively to them.

It’s a good thing to consider inviting people to be your reference when things are going well and you’ve produced an amazing accomplishment or goal. That way they have a way of engaging with you and speaking specifically about something that you have done. You may even offer to write the letter and have them edit, update and share in their own words and place on their letterhead. People do want to help and contribute but you need a system and a way to engage them.

I recommend inviting people to be your reference and then following up with them on a regular basis to inform and include them in your progress. You might consider inviting them to join you on a social media site like LinkedIn or face book or Justmeans. The more up to date someone is with your current accomplishments and results the more likely they are ready to contribute to your success.

Once you have invited and they have accepted you can share their reference in many different ways. One specific way is in a written form such as by email or on letterhead which can be placed in your portfolio, scanned and placed on a web site or include in an on line career portfolio. You can invite them to be available by email or phone to answer questions. I also recommend that you encourage your references to do an on-line reference on yelp, linked in, on your web site, and to speak about you on twitter. References can play an important part in career management helping to describe and expand how employers see you and your work. Begin now to enhance your success.