Keep in contact with your References

Why?

1. Referees validate your CV

Your referees and what they say about you in your references play a major role in validating the details in your CV. You can sing your own praises as much as you like, it is entirely expected. But having your praises sung by a former employer carries more weight. All the details you provide in your CV that relate to skills, abilities, Honesty, integrity, team building, etc cannot easily be demonstrated in an interview. Having a reference, which reinforces those written details, means that your future employer will view the details on your CV less skeptically and more favourably.

2. The referee may switch jobs, retire, move, change numbers

If you don't keep in touch with potential referees, should any of the above occur you are up the creek without a paddle! You need to know where your referees are so that they can be contacted when you need them. You can only do this if you maintain contact with them before these changes occur.

You can easily keep track of referees by calling the company's switchboard and asking a few questions. If the company is fairly small, then you could call to say 'Hi' and just ask how all your ex colleagues are and catch up. It is quite nice when ex employees do this as their departure can feel as if they did not like where they worked, so follow up calls every few months helps to maintain a friendly status quo.

3. They may forget who you are

Companies with a high turn over of staff or many employees may not recall who you are when they are asked for a reference. Staying in contact with your referees helps them to better recollect you when the time comes.

How do I stay in contact with referees?

If you are still working for them while applying for a new job:

You may be reluctant to let them know you are applying for a new job if you feel it will jeopardise your remaining time in the company or if you fail to get the job. The reality is after all that if 50 people apply for 1 job, 49 of you will be disappointed. So first decide how much you want your existing employer to know.

If you decide to be upfront about your intention to switch jobs, your existing employer will probably appreciate the advance notice. It gives them a chance to look ahead to what they need to do with regard to finding a replacement etc. Keeping them informed could work very well in your favour. Be tactful, be diplomatic be grateful for the opportunities they provided. Keep them on side!

If it is an old employer who you left ages ago

It is good practice to contact an old employer before using them as a referee to inform them that you are going to do so. If you provide them with some basic details about who you are, what job role you had and dates etc, this gives them the chance to dig out that old file ready to write a reference when requested.

If they are contacted out of the blue, perhaps by telephone, they are not going to be able to provide much detail if they can't remember you.

You mother will never forget who you are but your old employer might! Stay in contact with referees.