Two women at a meetingYour resume got you in the door and you've aced the last round of interviews. Now it's time to prep your references. What you share with your reference is just as important as the information you include on a resume. Do you know how to prep your references to be an effective voice for you?

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Preparing Your References

Jun 17, 2021

Two women at a meetingYour resume got you in the door. You aced the last round of interviews and you have your list of references. What's next? Because your prospective employer may want to speak to some of your references, now is the time to connect with them about the specific position you're pursuing. You'll want your references to be prepared so they can advocate for you when the employer contacts them. Here are a few steps that can make this a smooth process for both your reference and the employer.

Preparing Your References for Their Role

Get in touch with your references to verify their contact information. Make sure you have the correct phone number and email for the colleague or manager you asked to be a reference. Having the most up-to-date information is important so employers can easily connect with your references.

Share your past and recent experience with your references. Unless you've kept in close contact with your previous employer or colleague, it may be hard for them to remember specifics about your previous job and your current ambitions. If it has been a while since you and the reference have worked together, refresh their memory about your job responsibilities and performance.

Preparing to be a reference

If a previous employee, colleague or peer asks you to be a reference, check with your company's policy. Some organizations have strict policies on who may provide a reference. If there are no restrictions, here are some basic questions you should be able to answer about the individual:

  • Would you hire or work with this person again?
  • Do they have a professional attitude and behavior at work?
  • Are they adaptable, a problem solver, a good team player?

Reference feedback is a chance to give honest, and constructive advice to help both the candidate and employer find the best fit for themselves.

Update your references on your current work situation and your career goals. What you share with your reference is just as important as the information you include on a resume. Walk them through your recent personal and professional growth so they are aware of your current capabilities. References can discuss your strengths and weaknesses with your possible future employer and give context to the experience you'd bring to your role. To make sure your references are comfortable answering questions about your skills, work performance and current goals, share why you are applying for this new position and what makes you a good fit for this new role. Consider sharing information like:

  • Skills that make you a good fit
  • Experience that prepares you for the job
  • Passion and excitement about the position you're applying for

Just like you prepare for job interviews, it is important to coach your references on the information they may be asked to provide your prospective employer.

Avoid Overly Personal References

Sometimes you don't have enough work experience to rely on using only professional contacts for a job reference. That's okay. Personal references like volunteer coordinators, club members and teachers are good additions to the list of people who can speak to your skills and accomplishments. However, avoid using your family members or significant others. Employers will assume that your family will always speak well of you so their endorsement will not carry much weight.

Vary Your References

It's a good idea to choose references that can each speak to your different attributes. For example, a manager could talk about your ability to problem solve or your reliability on your previous job. A volunteer supervisor could discuss your attitude and ability to work well in a team setting. Each of your references should have some knowledge of your strengths and character and be able to discuss why the prospective position would be a good match for your skills.

Working with Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI). Through this free and voluntary program, people who are eligible can work with Ticket Program service providers, like Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies, to receive supports and services as they pursue work. Many service providers offer help with job interview preparation, including mock interviews that can help you prepare for the questions you may receive during an interview.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Receive Ticket Program Texts

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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