During a job search, you want to be sure your references are available and willing to speak to potential employers. When is the best time to reach out and re-connect with your references?
Before you start applying
At the beginning of your job search, reach out individually to your references and re-confirm their willingness to act as a reference. Mention the types of jobs you will be applying to: this will help give them an idea of what an employer might ask them.
Contacting references at the start of your job search is very important. This will jog their memory, make sure they are still willing, and give them a chance to make some notes so they are ready for a phone call. Being called out of the blue to talk about someone they might not have worked with recently is very challenging: don’t put yourself or your references in that situation.
After a great interview
When you’ve completed an interview and you feel like you have a good chance at the job, is when your references are most likely to be contacted. This is also when an employer will ask for your references if you haven’t already provided them.
If you want, you can touch base with your references again, saying to expect a call, and what the position is. This is not necessary, but if it has been a while since you first talked to them, it’s nice to give a heads up.
When you’ve landed the job
You’ve been hired! While this proves your experience, knowledge and interview skills have paid off, your references played a big role in vouching for you as a good employee. Now is the time to send a quick thank you message to them. Tell them you got the job, you appreciate their help, and will continue to stay in touch. Your references will want to know if you were hired and if what they said was helpful – don’t keep them in the dark here.
The most important time to contact your references is at the beginning of the job search process. Not only is this nice for the references, but will benefit you as they will be more prepared. Keeping in touch through a long job search, and notifying them you were hired are nice gestures that will keep this professional relationship strong.