A Company has entire business groups responsible for improving, maintaining, nurturing Customer References. (I’ve been involved in that endeavor…) Every business leader knows that, and it’s a premier concern.
As a Candidate, one should be equally attentive to maintaining and nurturing their Professional References. Given my 1000+ search experiences, I can certainly tell you that references will make or break a candidacy. Many times, I’ve experienced situations where great references from credible sources (key) will mitigate a weaker resume. Equally, I’ve seen questionable references knock-off a seemingly great resume.
Advice to potential Candidates (this includes – EVERYONE): When you DO NOT need them, keep in touch your references. Meet them for a coffee about once a year; let them know what you’re doing now and any current accomplishments; reinforce the positive experiences you had together. Fish around for any unpleasant memories they may have about your business experiences together. Reinforce positives about those experiences – clear up any misunderstandings. Be subtle. But treat this as a necessary component of investing in the wellness of your career.
Great references are truly golden…. The Coin of the Realm.
NEXT: As a Company — Obtaining and Evaluating References of your Candidates.