What You Want Your Job References to Say about You

Work experience and credentials are essential elements of your resume, going a long way toward helping you achieve your career goals. However, if you didn’t cultivate positive professional relationships with the people around you at your former workplaces, particularly your immediate supervisors, you may end up hitting a snag later on when you’re listing references. Here, we will discuss a few things you will want a potential employer to hear from your references.

  1. You were a good communicator. Communication skills are essential in almost every industry. Even if you don’t have a job where you have to speak with co-workers or engage customers and clients on a regular basis in person, you will likely need to effectively communicate via e-mail or phone. The New York Daily News recently chronicled the importance of communication skills to advancing your career, and how good communicators are perceived as more competent and good at their jobs. Not only is it important to show on your resume that you have communication skills, but you will need your references to be able to back it up.
  2. You worked well with a team. Potential employers want to hear from your references that you were skilled at sharing responsibilities with a team of people and pulled your weight on team projects. They will especially want to know how your unique contributions helped make various team projects successful.
  3. You followed instructions. There’s nothing more frustrating to an employer than a worker who constantly questions his boss’s directives or needs to have his hand held through every project or work assignment. Your future employers will want to know from your references that you are capable of listening and following instructions and getting the job done according to those specifications without always trying to do things blindly or your own way.
  4. You were friendly, yet professional. Being a people person is important in all industries. After all, nobody wants a grouchy or anti-social person skulking around the workplace. However, you don’t want your references to rat you out as being so social that you were considered the office gossip who had trouble keeping your private life out of the workplace. Instead, you want your references to inform a potential employer that you were friendly to those around you, but maintained a sense of decency and professionalism.
  5. You met deadlines. Your references should be able to inform potential employers that you had a reputation for turning your work in on time by the set deadline. You don’t want to be known as the procrastinator who was constantly requesting "just one more week" to get that big report finished.
  6. You were a hard worker. Employers are always enthusiastic about hiring someone who has a reputation for putting 100 percent of themselves into their work. They definitely won’t be interested in hiring someone who always does the bare minimum and never goes above and beyond.

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