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Job References 101 for Legal Professionals

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Law Dawgs | Candidate Services
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Be honest with yourself, how much time have you really spent on ensuring you have the right references for the job? Many of today’s legal professionals spend little time on references. They review resumes and cover letters a gazillion times over, but they give job references a cursory glance. This is true of attorneys, paralegals, legal support personnel, legal administrators, etc.

This must change. References continue to play a vital role in securing a job. Hiring managers and firms still value the input references provide and often base hiring decisions on what a reference says. This means you need to spend some time on perfecting your list of references; and as you do, consider a few important rules on the topic.

Avoid Friends

Ideally, you don’t want a reference that is a close friend. The reason is that they’re not the most credible person in the eyes of an employer. Friends may bend the truth, embellish or downright lie in support of another friend. Employers don’t like these things. They want to speak with a reference that can provide truthful and objective information.

An effective way to help determine whether a reference is too friendly is to look at your social media. If you and your job reference are pictured on Facebook having drinks, it’s time to find a new reference. An associate is okay, but avoid references that might have a stake in your job pursuit.

Check for Specificity

You want a reference that can speak directly to your skills and abilities – not in general – but, as they relate to the position you’re applying for. Therefore, make certain your reference is specific to the job you’re after. Hiring managers don’t just want to hear from a reference that you’re a hard worker. They want to know how you’d perform – in detail – to the job duties at hand.

Don’t Overuse

Treat your references with professional courtesy. Don’t annoy them and keep in mind that they have a job other than helping you get one. So, don’t use them for more than a few job applications. You want a reference to talk excitedly about you. Don’t make a reference sound like a recording due to overuse.

Provide Job Details

You always want references that are prepared to talk about you. Help accomplish this by providing your references with as much details about a position as possible. Don’t just pass along the title of the role you’re applying for and the name of an employer. If possible, give your reference a copy of the job posting or job description. It’s also useful to highlight any other relevant details that you may have picked up in communications with the employer or via an interview.

Follow Up

Again, treat your references with professional courtesy. After an employer has contacted your reference, send that person an email or give them a call and thank them for their time and assistance. It’s the cordial thing to do and you never know when you might need that’s person’s assistance again in the future. Don’t burn bridges, but do build roads.

Never hunt for a job half-heartedly. Go the extra distance and make certain you have perfected all the tools at your disposal – resume, cover letter, interview preparedness, handshake, and your job references. True, maybe not everyone puts in the time to get the best references, but therein is just what might set you apart from the rest. As always, contact us with any questions. 

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