Strategies for Career Advancement, Part ThreeNovember 09, 2012 by firstname.lastname@example.org
Your reputation is one of the most important assets you will carry around with you in your professional life. And with social networks like LinkedIn providing more comprehensive pictures of professional experiences and backgrounds, a bad reputation is harder to escape. Building a strong set of references is vital at any point in your career, but there are right and wrong ways to manage this asset.
In the first two installments of our “Strategies for Career Advancement” series, we looked at how a cultivated network of references—and a willingness to make compromises—can open doors for you professionally. In this third and final installment, we’ll review some of the changing trends in how professionals are using their network to vouch for their competencies, and how references should be managed going into the job search.
LinkedIn has long maintained a method of providing recommendations for professionals based on another connection’s experience working with that individual. But the new “Endorsements” feature made available on the social network aims to refine those rave reviews. Instead of dumping general praise on an individual via a recommendation, endorsements are made specific to certain skill sets claimed in each professional’s profile.
Users don’t control who gives them endorsements, but they control the skills listed under their profile. The endorsements feature can be of particular benefit to students at the undergraduate and graduate level, giving them the ability to better represent the skill sets they’ve acquired in the course of their education.
Providing a list of references
A good business management degree program will empower you with a number of valuable professional connections and references that will be vital in your impending job search. How you manage those references is important.
To present yourself in the best light, you need fresh references—not ones that have been sitting on your resume for most of the past decade—and those references need to have accurate contact information attached to them. Aim for between three and five professional references, and only send references when they are requested—otherwise you risk overwhelming your references with phone calls from prospective employers.
Keeping your references in the loop
One final warning that needs to be heeded at all times: Keep your references updated on your activity. Let them know when they should expect phone calls from prospective employers. If it’s been a while since you last talked to them, check back and make sure that they’re still okay with serving as a reference.
And when you do get that job, it’s worth sending a quick note to thank your references for their participation in the process. Ultimately, serving as a reference is an act of goodwill, and keeping in their good graces will pay off when you solicit their help in the future.
As you approach your job search—whether you’re coming out of school or just trying to change positions—refer back to this three-part series for tips to help you manage your professional connections and get the most out of your network. Networking is often the best method of finding a job because it provides an inside track through personal relationships, which are highly valued in the professional world. And whatever you do, never burn a bridge or disregard a potential connection. Even if you think they’ve served their purpose for you, you never know when—or how—that connection could be an asset in the future.
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