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4 Steps To An Even Better Reference List

Posted by Gail Mayes on 10/22/18 7:01 AM

Reference Check

An organization has just asked you for a list of your references. This is great news if you already have a carefully constructed, up-to-date reference list ready to be sent. If you don’t, then there's no need to panic. While it's always best to have a reference list prepared before you begin your job search, here are four steps to take to help you get your reference list together.

1. Prepare For A 360 Degree Reference Check

Here at Vanderbloemen, we conduct a 360 degree reference check on candidates our clients are considering hiring. We talk with individuals who supervised the candidate, were peers or colleagues, and who reported to the candidate (usually a staff member or even a volunteer). The first thing you should do when putting together your reference list is collect names and contact information for at least one, if not two, individuals in each of those three categories. If there are additional individuals – perhaps a mentor or former pastor or professor – include them as well.

If you are reticent to place individuals for whom you currently work on your reference list, that is understandable. However difficult it may be, it is always beneficial to list at least one person from your current place of employment. Has anyone you worked with left recently? Would they be willing to provide a reference for you? What about an individual who you once reported to but is no longer your direct supervisor? In most cases, if confidentiality is humbly sought, it is graciously conferred.

"In most cases, if confidentiality is humbly sought, it is graciously conferred." Tweet:

2. Update Reference Information

Make sure the reference information you have is up to date by proactively contacting each of those individuals. While you are reaching out to your reference to make sure the contact information is up to date, ask them to be a reference for you. By reaching out to your references, you can ensure their phone number and email address is accurate as well as update them on where you are in your job search. A reference should never say, “I haven’t talked with {the candidate} in several years, but last time I talked with him he was doing well.”

3. Alert Your References

Let your references know an individual will be contacting them in the near future for a reference check. When candidates give their references a heads up, there is a significantly faster response time by the references. The faster the response rate, the faster the church can make a decision regarding your candidacy – which is always appreciated after a long search process.

"When candidates give their references a heads up, there is a significantly faster response time by the references." Tweet:

4. Organize Your Reference List

Prepare the reference list. Include the name, title, phone number and email address of each of your references. Also important to include is your relationship to the reference, “Ms. Smith supervised me at ABC Church” or “Mr. Thomas reported to me as a volunteer at ABC Church.” Once the document is prepared, double check that all the phone numbers and email address are correct and send it to your potential employer.  

What additional advice do you have about preparing a reference list?The church leader's guide to conducting effective reference checks

Topics: Hiring & Staffing


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