Using References

A few tips on references

As an immigrant, I am aware of how many obstacles newcomers to Canada are facing when starting their job search: lack of Canadian experience, less-than-perfect English language skills, limited knowledge of local labour market…

But with dedicated research and hard work you gradually overcome these obstacles and finally make it to the job interview that goes really well. It comes down to the final process before the employer decides on hiring you; the employment reference check.

Many of the new immigrants are stuck with a dilemma: how to get professional references when you never worked in Canada?

References do not have to be employment related. A reference is someone who can provide information on your character. Ideally you want to use work related references however you can use such references as school instructors or teachers, if you have taken any upgrading courses or job search and employment support programs. If you held a”survival job” or a volunteer job you may ask your supervisors and co-workers. These references should be individuals who can speak highly of your accomplishments, work ethic, skills, education, etc. Try to avoid using family members or friends.

Good references are a critical part of any job search and can help you secure that perfect job. They provide a potential employer with information about your past work history, your skills, and abilities. We all know that a bad reference can cost you a job.

How to use references?

Keep your references off of your resume. Your resume should only state: “References Available Upon Request”. You can list them on a separate document and hand this document over once the employer asks for your references.

Contact your references for permission.  Before listing someone as your reference, be sure to ask for their permission and ask if they are comfortable. The last thing you want is to have an employer call a reference on your list without them being aware.

Make sure that contact information is correct. Get current and complete information from each reference: full name, current title, company name, business address, and contact information such as e-mail address and phone numbers.

Keep your references informed: Once you provide an employer with a list, contact your references and inform them that they may be contacted by the employer. If you can, provide them with information about the company, position you have applied for, and who may be contacting them. You may also choose to send the references a copy of your most current resume so they can refer to the resume during the call.

Thank your references for their help: As a common courtesy always thank your references for their help regardless if the employer contacts them or not. The best references are those you keep in touch with on a regular basis, since you may have to use them a few times during your job search.