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Speak with your references before beginning a job search

History has taught us that people are as changeable as the wind. I am sure that we have all had an experience where a friend or acquaintance said one thing and then changed it to something else a day later. This is human nature and nobody can control the changes except the person making the change.

With that being said, let's consider your job references. When you decide to look for a new job, it's a good idea to touch base with your references.

Stage your tasks

Looking for a new job and verifying that your references are still on your side can be a staged process. You can begin your job search and post your resume before contacting your references but don't wait too long.

Step One 'get noticed

A good first step in your job search is to get your resume posted on all the job sites.' Generating leads is an important part of the process, regardless on how you choose to do it.

Stage two 'email

Once you have posted your resume and sent it to as many recruiters as possible, send a friendly email to all of your references letting them know that you are searching for a job. In the email ask them to verify their contact info and current place of employment.

It is a good idea to attach a copy of your resume to allow your references to remember where you worked together and what your job responsibilities were. Most managers deal with lots of employees and prior employees and they may not remember exactly what you did.

Most, if not all of your references will respond quickly. If you do not receive a prompt response, then you must assume they either did not get your message, they chose not to respond or they might be out of town. No matter what the reason, now is the time to call them.

Stage two 'call

When you call, make sure to listen to the undertone of your conversation. You can verify the contact info and find out what they are doing now but it is imperative that you listen to what they are saying behind their words. If you get the feeling that this person really does not want to be a reference, consider putting them on a separate list of secondary references.

Most references will do their best to give you an excellent reference but sometimes outside factors may be influencing their attitude and you do not want your reference's attitude to cost you a second interview or cost you a job.

Stage three 'decide

When you talk to your reference, if they sound distant and unconcerned, they may not be the best person to use. If they are openly hostile, definitely do not use them. Life and people change on a daily basis and you never know when someone may change the way they feel about you.

The main goal when applying for a new job is to put yourself in the best light possible in the eyes of the employer. Everyone has a little tarnish and picking good references allows you to try and put some polish on it. All in all, the entire job hunting process is time-consuming and sometimes a real pain. Be proactive and eliminate any potential pitfalls by speaking with your references up front and deciding if you want to keep them as a reference.

About the Author
Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook ( As editor of the weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.

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