References are important, especially for newcomers with unfamiliar or minimal work histories. In fact, HR professionals see an increased reliance on quality references to separate effective social media self-promotion from real qualifications and experience.
Initially, clients can use resettlement agency staff as references – case managers, job developers, ESL instructors or employment specialists. Be sure clients know this and that they are prepared with the correct contact information to provide when references are requested.
Here are some additional talking points and tips you can use to explain the concept and help clients get started building references.
Help your colleagues provide effective references. Make sure they agree to play this role. Provide them with talking points. For example, the client has:
- been on-time to all meetings and appointments. They will come to work on time, too.
- attended all orientation, work readiness and ESL classes. They are ready and able to learn.
- complied with all agency policies and eligibility requirements. They follow the rules.
- asked many questions about work and jobs in the US. They are ready and eager to work.
- a very supportive, stable family or living situation. They will be a reliable employee.
Define the term and tell clients when to expect a reference request. References are people who can talk about your ability to do the job and their experience with you as a reliable, trustworthy and qualified person. Employers often request that you provide them with three references that they will call before they offer you a job.
Take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of keeping a job for at least six months. Most people in the US use references from their previous jobs. This is one more reason why it is important to keep a job for at least six months so you can get to know people well enough to ask them to be a reference. Quitting without giving at least two weeks notice is a guaranteed way to get a negative reference.
Provide guidance for selecting references now and in the future. References don’t have to be people you worked with. They should be someone who knows you and can give examples of why you would be a great employee.
- Your preacher, deacon, fellow volunteer or even a neighbor or community leader could be a good reference.
- Don’t list relatives as references. Everyone knows your family will only say good things about you.
- Be sure your references speak fluent English and can be easily reached by a US phone number or via email. Employers won’t spend the time or money to make an international phone call.
Finally, these steps for lining up great references could be useful for some of the most advanced clients – or maybe for you.