Are You Choosing the Right Professional References?

Sometimes professional references are the last step between you and your dream job. Often, employers check your references as the very last step before offering you the job.

So how much thought have you put into choosing your references?

Until a formal offer is made, the job isn’t yours. But it can be easy to lose your strategic edge when choosing which professional references to list. When it comes to job search advice, choosing the right references is right up there with a strong resume and polished cover letter.

Be sure to choose professional references who demonstrate these traits:Professional references advice

  • They will take the request seriously. Sometimes former colleagues are also friends – that happens to many of us throughout our careers. But choosing friends isn’t typically a good choice when it comes to your career. Employers who choose to speak with professional references are doing so because they value the insight such references can provide. If you choose someone (or some people) who are unprepared or don’t take the role of professional reference seriously, it can most definitely damage your reputation and result in someone else receiving the job offer. When employers ask you for references, they’re expecting you to choose the people who will position you in the best possible light, and who will be prepared to talk about why you’re a great fit for their organization. If you don’t choose the very best references now, what kind of message does that send employers about the types of choices you’ll make on the job?
  • They can express themselves well verbally (or possibly in writing). Most professional references are contacted via phone to discuss you and your qualifications, but from time to time employers will reach out via email. To be sure your bases are covered, you should present professional references who are comfortable expressing themselves both verbally and in writing. At this point in the process, your professional references are literally “selling” you, so be certain to choose individuals who are comfortable expressing why you’re the right choice.
  • They understand your weaknesses (and can position them well). We all have weaknesses. In all likelihood, you discussed yours during the interview process. But your potential new employer isn’t done talking about them – your professional references should be prepared to discuss them as well (and how you can turn them into strengths). If you’re choosing professional references who served as a direct supervisor, colleague or client, they likely have had an opportunity to see you “in action” and can formulate some thoughts on your strengths and weaknesses. But this your career – don’t be afraid to take charge and talk to your references ahead of time about your weaknesses. You don’t want to give the impression you’re telling your references what they should say. But, having a candid conversation where you ask for insight into your strengths and weaknesses can help prepare your references for having that same conversation later with a recruiter.

If you’re ready to submit your references to an employer, you’re near the finish line – congratulations! But if you’re still looking for your next career opportunity, call Helpmates. We work with top employers across Southern California, and we’ll help you find the right job to reach your goals. Search our open jobs or contact your nearest Helpmates office now to get started.

Confidence is Key – How to Impress in Job Interviews

A few months ago, we talked about the importance of confidence in making a positive first impression with employers. But finding and exuding confidence can be a challenge in and of itself.

Showcase your skills and impress hiring managers by being confident.HM

If nerves are getting in the way of properly conveying confidence during your interviews, check out these tips. Doing your homework ahead of time can help quell nerves and help you put your best foot forward!

  • Show that you’ve done your research. Today’s employers want engaged employees who demonstrate they are invested in the company and its success. We always recommend candidates prepare for interviews by researching the position and company – it’s up to you to show that you’ve prepared! Prepare thoughtful questions that lead with something similar to “While researching your company, I noticed that [blank]” and you’ll not only demonstrate that you’ve done your research, you’ll impress interviewers by showing a genuine interest in their companies.
  • Pay attention to your body language. The old standards really come into play here – if you’re constantly looking down or mumbling, you are far from exuding confidence in an interview. Here’s a great list of body language mistakes to avoid from Forbes. One of the best ways to avoid body language mistakes and really exude confidence during your job interviews is to practice. Ask a friend or family member to act as the interviewer, and run through practice interview questions, working to avoid body language mistakes while providing thoughtful, positive responses.
  • Repeat back names as you meet new people. People like to hear their names – it makes them feel more positively toward you, and it can also make it feel like you “fit right in” despite meeting the employer for the first time. Plus, repeating back names can send a subliminal message that you intend to meet and speak with that person again. Listen carefully when introduced to any person at a prospective employer, then repeat that name back during introductions. Body language also plays a factor here – look someone in the eye, extend a firm handshake, and add a genuine, “Nice to meet you, [NAME].”
  • Practice what you want to say. There’s no way to know exactly what an interviewer will ask you during a job interview, but you can certainly have an idea of key points you’d like to make during job interviews. Prepare those responses and practice them ahead of time to sound cool and confident. The more you’ve said certain responses out loud, the more natural they’ll feel once you’re in an actual interview.
  • Be positive. Whether you’re talking about your skill set or your previous employers, always focus on positives in job interviews. No one likes to be surrounded by negative people – and although you may not mean to, talking about past challenges or mistakes can make you seem like you’re dwelling on the negative. That’s where practicing your responses comes into play – you can always take a positive spin! Work through any potentially negative areas and spin them to focus on the positive.

Doing your homework and being prepared for an interview is the easiest way to be relaxed and confident. Here at Helpmates, we help all our candidates prepare for interviews with Southern California’s top employers. We’ll help you find the right job to reach your goals, then we’ll help ensure you put your best foot forward with hiring managers. Search our available SoCal jobs to take the first step.

When to Start Your Job Search

Job seekers have plenty of details to worry about, like what to include on resumes and cover letters, how to dress for interviews, and what to say when they’re asked the tough questions like “Why do you want to work for this company?” But there’s another concern that many job seekers don’t even consider: when to start looking for a job.

For some, the answer seems obvious: when you’re unemployed. However, there are many underemployed and unhappily employed people who are searching for something better—and if this is you, it’s important to factor timing into your job search.

So, when should you launch your search? These tips will help you figure out the most beneficial time to start sending out your resume for the career you want, instead of the job you need.

After you’ve done your homework

There are three keys to a successful job search: research, research, and research. You should be spending a significant amount of time looking into the industry you want to enter, the companies you’re thinking of applying with, and the position itself.

Hold off on sending out resumes until you’ve learned everything you possibly can. This not only helps you prepare for interviews, but also ensures that you’re pursuing a position you’ll truly enjoy.

Before you get sick of what you’re doing now

You may not need a new position right now. You might even enjoy your current job. However, unless you landed a fast-track career at your favorite company in an industry you love, and you’re already halfway to CEO, chances are you’ll eventually want to branch out, even if only within your current company.

Spend some time reviewing your long-term goals. Are they achievable in your current position? If not, start looking for opportunities inside and outside of your current employer that will allow you to get where you ultimately want to be, even when your employment situation is stable. This way, you’ll be prepared when you’re ready to make the change.

Once you’ve completed a major project

Work experience is a great thing to have on your resume—but responsibility and results are even better. If the future of your current position includes a big project in which you’ll have a primary role, it’s a good idea to stick around and get the experience before seeking greener pastures.

Potential employers are impressed by candidates with proven results. Make it your goal to achieve major project experience in your current job. If you’re ready to move on afterward, use that experience as leverage to get your foot in another door.

We’re here to help

Helpmates Staffing can help you hone your job search and place you in the career you’ve always wanted. We’ve worked with top employers throughout Southern California for more than 40 years, and we have access to unique career opportunities that aren’t available anywhere else. Contact us to find out more about how Helpmates can further your career.

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