Filling out the references section on a job application form was the doomsday of my submittal. It’s not that I wasn’t a good employee or had no one to vouch for my character; it’s just that I hated remembering address after address and numerous phone numbers (naturally this was years before I owned a cell phone). Nowadays, it’s sufficient to either list references at the bottom of a resumé or to attach them, thus eliminating my memory problem. Seems simple enough, so you’d think this would diminish any problems one might have with references, but apparently that’s not the case. Candidates still think that references really don’t matter, but they do. A LOT, in fact. Do you have some advice about references? Here are some tips from our insurance recruiters:
Don’t talk bad about your references.
If you do reach out to a colleague for a reference, ensure it’s someone you respect and value. Personally, I would only ask someone who I would give a reference to in return. In the past we have witnessed candidates bad-mouthing references. If your reference is someone you admire then I imagine it should be rather easy to not talk behind his or her back. It’s rude to indulge in office gossip or to vent to a colleague about another coworker, so be smart and keep things respectful and professional at all times.
Leave Grandma Ruth off your reference sheet.
Even when I was 14 and applying for my first job, I knew that grandparents shouldn’t be used as references. But to this day we have candidates listing close family friends or relatives as character references. This is a terrible idea. No family friend or relative sees you in your work environment, so how can they honestly vouch for your work ethic? Your family loves and cherishes you, so their opinion of you is obviously biased. Needless to say, our insurance recruiters and claims managers won’t take them, or you seriously.
[Related: 10 things to leave off your Resume]
References are not optional.
When completing a job application, some candidates assume that references are optional and if the hiring manager needs them, they will just ask. However, when job searching you need to set yourself apart from your competitors and you do that by making sure your resumé is great, your cover letter is addressed to the right person and by ensuring you dress professionally. So, don’t forget to take that extra step of adding in your references. A manager or colleague at your previous place of employment is a great choice. They can affirm you are a great claims adjuster who eases the tempers of angry claimants and how you hold tremendous knowledge in your field of expertise. Don’t pass up on one more opportunity to get ahead of the competition.
References can either help or hurt you, depending on who you choose and how you have handled yourself in the past. I once had a friend speak poorly of her reference and he found out, so not only would he not vouch for her as a teaching professional, it made her next school year a complete nightmare. When you’re applying for one of our many insurance jobs, make sure your reference will endorse your work ethic. Our insurance recruiters want to find out who you are as an employee, claims adjuster and insurance professional – so keep that in mind the next time you think about putting Grandma Ruth as a reference.