Follow Up with Your References: How (and Why) to Keep the Relationship Alive
Most job search literature places great emphasis on the process of selecting and contacting potential employment references. While it is important to choose your references wisely and to check with them to make sure they’re willing to vouch for you well before you send out your résumé, that process is really only the first phase of this unique professional relationship.
According to Edward Andler, reference expert and author of The Complete Reference Checking Handbook, job seekers should make it a top priority to form long-term partnerships with their professional references. These key contacts in your field will form the foundation of your hospitality industry network as your career takes off and begins to flourish. In fact, your references are perfect resources to help guide you as your professional path moves you in directions you might not yet even be able to imagine.
Cultivate a Lasting Relationship with Your References
Although your prospective employers’ reference check is probably the event that’s weighing most heavily on your mind when you’re in the midst of a job search, don’t let this focus distract you from the benefits of forming a long-term bond with your references. Rather than focusing exclusively on the interview process, try to think of your references as mentors and experts who may be able to provide guidance today, tomorrow, and in the distant future.
What’s the best way to parlay your references into a long-term career resource? Experts suggest that you should approach the entire reference process strategically, with as much careful consideration as you afford to job search itself. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you make the most of your references long after the hiring process is over.
Keep your references updated throughout your job search.
Most hospitality industry job seekers contact their references at the beginning of their job search, and then let the connection fall dormant. Instead, try to keep them engaged and in-the-know with weekly or monthly interactions that summarize the who, what, and when of your ongoing job search. Job search experts say that informed references are more effective references.
Contact your references for insight into the interview process.
If a particular employer has let you know that he or she plans to contact your references in the near future, follow up by placing a call of your own. Although it might be seen as rude or presumptuous to ask your references exactly what transpired when they spoke with the hiring manager, it’s perfectly fine to confirm that the call took place and to try to get a general sense of how the conversation went. In fact, this check-in call is a valuable tool to help you gauge the progress of your job search.
Express your gratitude with a gesture of thanks.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve been hired to say “thanks” to your references. Instead, send a personal note after they agree to vouch for you. At the end of your job search, follow up with a thank-you note and a small but heartfelt token of your esteem.
Maintain an open line of communication.
As your job search concludes and your new career begins, make sure to incorporate your references into your professional network. Lavish them with the same frequent contacts and ongoing conversations that you would afford to any other mentor or advocate. Cards, calls, emails, and holiday greetings are all great ways to keep in touch.
Reciprocate and give back whenever possible.
The best way to establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with your references is to extend your own open-ended offer of help and assistance. Even if you haven’t yet built up the career credentials in the hospitality industry to serve as a reference in your own right, there are countless other ways that you can offer your support. Make it known that you’re ready and willing to lend a hand whenever you may called upon to do so.
Your relationship to your references shouldn’t begin and end with your job search. If you invest the time and effort to maintain a long-term connection, you’ll definitely reap the professional benefits down the line!