Job Reference Rules: How To Get (& Give) Good Referrals

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
By Meghan Rabbitt

When you're gunning for a new job, there's a good chance that you'll spend hours poring over every bullet point on your résumé, and spend even more time writing and rewriting your cover letter.

But, how much time do you spend prepping your list of references?

Yep, we thought so.

While most of us stress over other details — our outfits, our interview questions, our handshake — many of us likely don't give nearly the same level of detail to the process of asking people to vouch for our professional accomplishments.

And, that's too bad, given that the strengthening job market means more hiring opportunities: Over a third of companies in a recent CareerBuilder survey report that they expect to hire full-time, permanent staff in 2015 — that's the brightest outlook since 2006.

A glowing reference could be what gives job hunters the edge they need to shine over the competition, especially in today's corporate culture where there's a lot at stake if you hire a poor fit.

"The wrong people are hired all the time, and it costs a lot of money," says 30-year headhunting veteran Jim Giammatteo, author of No Mistakes Résumés. "Bad hiring also ruins careers. And, much of this could be eliminated if reference checks were handled better."

So, whether you're a job seeker looking to foster the right reference relationships — or you're acting as a reference and want to make sure you're helping, not hurting, someone's chances — here's how to ace job reference etiquette.

RELATED: 5 Things Job Candidates Obsess Over — But Hiring Managers Don't

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