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Q: When a prospective employer asks you for written references, is it ok to show your LinkedIn recommendations?
A: References tend to be an addendum to the application process. Soft skills, technical skills, fit, domain knowledge and professionalism will be the tier one basis points. How much weight is put on references depends on the business alignment, detail of the reference and reputation of the individual providing it.
Over the last decade technology has allowed us to communicate much more efficiently at a global level. References on professional portals such as Linkedin are as acceptable as traditional paper references. However, if you choose to provide those references, it would serve your benefit to put them in a well structured word document or email. This will show strong initiative and commitment to the role you are seeking. If you can get a reference that outlines your background against the specific role you are applying to, that will set you above the competition.
Q: Who are the best people to ask for references?
A: The number of references is less important than the quality of the feedback. References that will be weighed the most heavily will come from individuals that are more senior than yourself. They have had first-hand knowledge of your day to day roles and your accomplishments. Teammates who have worked closely in a project setting can be a valuable source of references as well. A subordinate who views you as a leader, mentor or supervisor should be the only individuals you should chose for a reference that are at a lower level of responsibility than you.
Q: What if you left your old job on not the best of terms? Who should you approach for a reference?
A: If you left a company on poor terms, try to align a reference from a business unit or team member that had a positive interaction with you. One of the most common mistakes is waiting until the end of a role before asking for a reference. If you were part of a major project or took on a new role in the organization, do not be afraid to ask for a professional reference to outline your successes. Many look at a reference as a part of your portfolio to seek another career opportunity. It should be viewed as a personal recognition for successful and well received performance.
It is a jungle out there and we are all in pursuit of the same prize, survival and career satisfaction. We must all remember that we are in control of our destiny. Through job performance, networking, research and implementation, we have the ability to blend in with the crowd or achieve that rare pinnacle of success.