If you are like most of my clients – then marketing yourself is NOT your first love. But of course making sure your resume and references speak volumes about your achievements is really critical. Here are four powerful tips that you MUST know getting great references that will WOW your readers:
Tip One: Become a “reference collector”
Consider “collecting” references and testimonials well before you think you might need them. Better yet, set a goal of obtaining two or three testimonials or references each year no matter what. You can easily accomplish this by simply telling your potential references that you are gathering testimonials as you go… as part of your long term strategic-goals for your career.
Tip Two: Widen your pool of potential references
Do you know that many other people other than your immediate boss can be a highly compelling reference? References can come from colleagues, people that work FOR you, clients, vendors and even co-members of associations or boards you may serve on. You simply ask them to focus on giving a reference from their particular vantage point.
Tip Three: Ask for a written reference
Why not ask your references for a powerful, short performance statement in lieu of the more typical “letter of reference”. I put together a one to two page document for my clients filled with short statements from all sorts of credible references speaking from their unique vantage points. The result is a reference page that reads like a long list of 5-star book reviews! You simply ask your references for a short quote containing substantive information such as how you solved a problem, helped a company grow, saved $ or increased productivity or profits. Better yet, you can write the reference FOR them and then simply get their OK. Though this can be a little uncomfortable at first you will end up with some very powerful reference statements that convey the exact message you want to communicate. References that say “Jim is a great guy – I would definitely refer him to others – is vague and unimpressive.
Tip Four: Help your references
This is accomplished through taking an active role in developing a powerful reference topic or topics. Give potential references two or three things to focus on. Of course those two or three things should be in sync with the kind of position you are focused on. Let’s say in your next position you want to target a Senior VP Operations role. You could coach their references to comment on the following strengths:
1. My abilities as a leader – taking a company global.
2. My capabilities on the new technology integration task force.
3. My abilities to analyze current operations and pioneer long term growth plans.
Using these easy and powerful tips you will soon have an abundance of highly targeted and compelling references that will have potential employers taking notice!