You’ve crafted an amazing executive resume and you’re ready to launch a job search campaign in 2021, but before you get too far into your search, have you considered who you will use as your references to verify your strengths, reputation, and qualifications?
Your executive resume is a structured presentation of your career story —your unique value proposition, what makes you a high-impact leader, and highlights your leadership competencies, experience, and accomplishments—and your references can make or break the employer’s interest in your candidacy along with your chances of receiving an offer.
If you have yet to compile your list of references, take some time to compile a list of people who can fully attest to your personal brand and validate your value offer.
Sourcing Executive-level References
In a competitive hiring marketplace, the focus is on finding executive-level managers (CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, COOs) that have integrity, the core competencies, and key strategic decision-making skills to steer the organization. It is imperative your references can speak with confidence about who you are and the value you offer without placing your current position in jeopardy.
Here’s where to look for possible candidates to use as stellar references:
– Former co-workers / peers from prior workplaces or individuals who have left your current company.
– Customers, clients, or third-party service providers with whom you’ve developed a great working relationship with and can speak to your abilities as an executive within your industry.
– Members of a Board of Directors with whom you’ve worked closely or other thought leaders in your industry.
Remember, at the executive level, hiring the best management team is crucial to organizational success –the wrong hire can have a tremendous impact on the company’s path forward. Therefore, the hiring process is more in-depth and goes beyond the obligatory reference check.
Key to your success is finding several people who can offer insights about you as a person and your professional prowess.
Acquire Permission First
Now that you’ve put together your list, be sure to speak with your potential references to ensure they will be willing participants in your job search.
Create a Reference Sheet
Prior to an interview, you will want to have a separate sheet ready to share with the interviewer should they ask for your professional references. This sheet will be ‘dressed’ the same as your resume and executive cover letter. It should radiate the same professionalism and list the names of three to five individuals who can speak about your job performance, integrity, and competencies.
Here’s what to include:
– Reference’s Name + Professional Title
– Their Employer’s Name + Business Mailing Address
– Contact’s Phone Number (with area code)
– Email Address
– Relationship to You
Pulling it all together, it should look like this:
Rosa Elizabeth Vargas, Executive Resume Writer
CareerSteering – West Orlando, FL 34787
Direct Phone: 321-704-7209
Direct Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Relationship: Career Mentor
Prevent Surprises, Brief Your References
Prior to providing an employer with your list of references, take some time to speak with each person to ensure you have their permission to use them as a reference, brief them on your current goals, and refresh their memories of your accomplishments. You definitely don’t want them to be blind-sided with a conversation.
– Email a copy of your resume + cover letter + a link to your updated LinkedIn profile.
– Help your references understand your motives behind searching for a new role. By doing so, you are positioning them for a more meaningful conversation about your reputation, your credibility, and work performance.
Leverage LinkedIn Endorsements
After you’ve listed your direct contact references, consider adding more credibility juice by including two or three public recommendations from your LinkedIn profile.
From (Name), (Title), (Company Name): “Rosa Vargas provided excellent service to me as I began my career transition. Rosa’s timely attention to detail through a well-defined process resulted in well summarized, highly professional materials. Peers and Executive Recruiters have given positive feedback to me on the very professional appearance and quality of my resume, biography, and LinkedIn profile update.”
References are an often overlooked, yet critical component in the job search process; therefore, choose wisely, prep your references before you interview with a company, and stay in touch with them throughout your job search.