How to choose the best references for your hospitality job search
You’ve logged countless hours researching potential employers, polishing and customizing your resume and writing a stand-out cover letter. You’ve spent days preparing your answers to common interview questions, practicing confident body language and choosing the perfect business attire for meeting hospitality hiring managers. But have you given any thought to your references?
According to a survey conducted by SkillSurvey, a provider of hiring solutions including online reference and credential checks, 70 percent of employers check references for every job candidate. Sixty-three percent do so because getting third-party opinions helps them hire better employees. Fifty-nine percent say reference checks help them avoid bad hires. While a great reference can seal the deal on a job offer, a bad one can derail it just as quickly. Consider these tips for choosing the best references to aid you in your hospitality job search.
Start by thinking about the people who can best speak about your professional strengths and abilities. This group is likely to include your former supervisors—who were regularly responsible for observing and assessing your performance—but it may also include the coworkers you worked beside every day. If you were in a management position, it can include your direct reports as well as the managers of other departments who were familiar with your work ethic and accomplishments. Choose those you are certain will have positive things to say about their experience with you.
At minimum, you should provide potential employers with three solid references. Some may request as many as five—or even more for management jobs. If you cannot come up with enough former supervisors, coworkers and direct reports who are likely to provide a glowing review of your professional merit, you may be able to pull a few more from other sources. These include former professors and other educational mentors, directors at organizations for which you’ve volunteered, and former customers and industry colleagues who can speak to your character.
Some employers ask for personal as well as professional references. When they do, never include members of your family. Your friends, neighbors, the pastor or priest at your church, even your personal trainer, hairstylist or other service providers with whom you’ve had regular contact are better choices.
Get permission before including anyone on your reference sheet. While most people will be flattered to be asked to provide an assessment of your work, a few may not be comfortable doing so. Provide each one with a copy of your current hospitality resume and an overview of the types of jobs for which you’re applying. It never hurts to suggest specific skills and accomplishments you’d like them to highlight either. While you’re at it, confirm you have their correct information including full name, current title and employer, work address, daytime phone number and email.
Never include references on your resume. Instead, print them out on a separate page with the same stylistic feel. Note each reference’s relationship to you, and list your strongest references first. You can then give this list to potential employers when it is requested, usually after one or more interviews.