With current events contributing to high unemployment and an uncertain job market, it makes good business sense — and is respectful professional etiquette — to stay in touch with your former bosses.
Follow these 5 guidelines to ensure your references will continue to advocate on your behalf:
1. Always confirm that your former boss is willing to provide a favorable job reference on your behalf. Don’t assume that they will say all good things- confirm what they will convey as their impression of you as an employee.
2. Don’t let them be caught unprepared. Let your references know each time you’re thinking of making a professional move and let them know they may be contacted for a reference. Be sure to thank them for their efforts.
3. Avoid contacting your reference only when you need assistance. Check in periodically with your reference to keep them informed of your career and educational progress. An occasional short “checking in” conversation that provides them with updates keeps them informed of your career trajectory and allows them to provide current and relevant information to potential new employers.
4. Bear in mind that your references use their valuable time to help support your professional growth. If you plan to use them over the years, you need to give something back. Pen a personal thank-you letter or (at a minimum) an email each time they provide an endorsement. Better still, send a thank-you note with a gift card for Starbucks, or offer to take them to lunch/dinner.
5. If you win the new position, call or email your former boss and thank them again for their support. This is also a perfect time to provide them with your new position’s details and give them your new professional contact information.
Send a Holiday Card, an extremely easy & manageable way to stay in touch on a personal basis. Over 50% of holiday card recipients indicate they are more likely to do business with company or individual who sends holiday greeting cards.
It’s critical to be proactive in your relationship with your references- don’t allow these important relationships to falter or disconnect.
If you are uncertain whether your professional references and past employers will relay positive comments about you to prospective employers, consider having them checked out. A professional reference-checking firm can either put your mind at ease, or supply you with the critical information and evidence that may be blocking your job search efforts. If any negative commentary is documented, consider remedial action through utilization of a Cease & Desist letter.