Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stand Out From the Crowd with An Annotated Reference List

When asked for references, most job seekers just plunk down a list with a few names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers on it.
It meets the request, but it's nothing special.  
It certainly doesn't make a job seeker stand out from the crowd. 

Stand out from the Crowd!
But, you can stand out from the crowd by supplying an Annotated Reference List whenever you're asked for references.  It not only meets the request, but exceeds it.  That's an advantage for you!

"Can you provide me with a list of references?"
Many times throughout a search for a new position, a job seeker will hear the question:  "Can you provide me with a list of references?"  This generally occurs when a prospective employer is seriously considering a job seeker for a position, but, in today's highly competitive job market, it can occur earlier in the process.

Generally, the job seeker responds with an e-mail or typed list of names.  While this response “technically” meets the request, there is a better way that will show you to be highly responsive, and a top notch candidate who goes the extra mile!

                              The big mistake many, if not the majority of, job seekers make 
                             is to underestimate the importance of the Annotated Reference  List.                   

Demonstrate that you are the superior candidate
If getting a job today is about demonstrating that you are the superior candidate  --  and it is!  --  , then everything you do should reflect you as the top candidate who goes the extra mile.  As the song says, "Every step you take, and every move you make," should make that statement. 

So, consider every interaction with a prospective employer, even something seemingly as small as a list of names, as a step along the path to your next job.  Every step should move the action forward!

Put your best foot forward
Anything you submit to an employer should show you in your most professional light.  Your reference list is no exception.  So, rather than plunking down a list of names on an e-mail or a piece of paper, why not prepare a professional looking annotated list of references that not only looks good but prepares the employer to have the most productive conversation with each of your references!

An Annotated Reference sets the stage for the conversation that the employer will have with your reference.  It does more than show the name and contact information of your reference.

(1)  It describes the nature of your professional relationship (manager, colleague, team member, employee, vendor, association member, etc.), preparing the reference checker to have a more productive conversation by asking questions relevant to the role he/she played.  Questions to a manager are different in nature than questions addressed to one who knew you as a co-worker.

(2)  It notes the type of areas of your competency that the reference can speak most knowledgeably about, therefore subtly directing the conversation to areas that you want your reference to discuss.  If a reference worked with you in sales, the reference checker can ask about that area of competency.  Similarly, if he/she was a vice president, who oversaw your work as a department manager, the reference checker can ask about your managerial capability.

(3)  It saves time.  The reference checker can immediately ask relevant questions.

 Here’s how to prepare your list:

Steps in preparing Annotated Reference List

Step 1: Show your brand 
Use the same heading information and format on your reference list as you have on your resume.  This is your brand.

Full Name    (as it appears on business card)                           e-mail address
Profession -  use generic title                                                        Phone # 
Physical Address - optional                                                           Linked In
Website address - optional

Note:  This is your Brand; use the same header as appears on your resume, marketing plan, cover letter.

Step 2:  Title the page
Annotated Reference List  
(generally centered on page)

Step 3: Select the references
List 4 references.  Employers generally ask for 3 references.  If you list 4, then if one reference is unreachable, the employer still receives the amount of information he/she is seeking.  

Step 4: Show the current contact information 
Full Name of Reference, with credentials
Current Phone #
Current e-mail address

Step 5:  Describe the relationship
Short paragraph (5-10 sentences) describing in what capacity the reference knew and worked with you (supervisor, employee, team member, colleague, etc.).  State the type of work you performed that the reference is knowledgeable of and can speak about.  Note which of your abilities, or competencies, the reference can talk about.

This short paragraph serves the purpose of providing a guide for the reference checker, showing him or her what aspects of your work the reference can discuss, saving time and leading to a more useful conversation.
For a downloadable template, click on the tab "Tools You Can Use."  
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
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