Providing Professional References: The Essential Dos and Don’ts

Our hospitality recruiters will be the first to tell you that a glowing professional reference can seal the deal on your dream job offer. But if you are not in the habit of networking, asking for professional references can feel intimidating. The good news is that most of your professional network would love to contribute to your professional success. However, before you hand over those contacts, consider these essential Dos and Don’ts of providing professional references:

DO Plan Ahead

Employers generally don’t contact references until after at least the first interview, but you should have your list ready before you apply for any jobs. Reach out to people you have worked with closely and ask if they are comfortable providing a reference. Ask which phone number and email they prefer you to share with potential employers. Let them know your career goals so they know what strengths to speak to.

DON’T Overlook Peers and Subordinates

When most people think of professional references, they immediately jump to using someone with an impressive title. Yet, if you are applying for a leadership role, it is your peers and subordinates who can best speak to your motivational and leadership skills. Preferably, these references are also individuals whose careers you have directly impacted.

DO Make Sure They are Relevant

Make sure there is a real working relationship with each of your references. Think of the colleagues that you regularly meet with professionally. Avoid falling back on industry friends, or people you’ve only met through networking events. While these individuals can help you identify new opportunities and expand your network, they cannot attest to your day-to-day strengths and weaknesses.

DON’T Use Current Employers

Ask yourself if any references could potentially jeopardize your current employment. Even a highly trusted coworker could accidentally let it slip that you are on your way out. Unless your employer knows you are searching for a new opportunity (and has explicitly given their blessing) avoid using someone from your current company for a reference.

DO Give References a Heads Up

Once your job search reaches the point where a potential employer asks for references, reach out again to give those contacts a heads-up. Let them know who will contact them, and what type of role it is. Also, confirm again that their contact information is correct. This way, your references will respond to hiring managers quickly.

DON’T Forget to Follow Up

While most hospitality professionals are happy to help a colleague succeed, acknowledge their efforts. A quick “thank you” can strengthen your professional relationship and make it more likely they will repeat the favor if needed. Also, if you get the job, be sure to let them know!

DO Trust an Experienced Hospitality Recruiter

When you apply for an opportunity through Horizon Hospitality, our recruiters will have your back. Our team contacts your references on behalf of our clients with the utmost courtesy and discretion. Read what candidates say about working with our hospitality recruiters.

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