Providing potential employees with a list of references is classically part of any hiring process. Hiring managers contact your references to gauge your capabilities from a different angle, allowing them to see how others view your skills, attitude, and more.

Ultimately, strong references are important when you’re applying for your next position for many reasons. Here’s a look at why they’re critical, as well as tips for choosing suitable references when applying for engineering jobs.

Why Strong References Are Important When Applying for Your Next Engineering Position

When a hiring manager is evaluating your potential, they’re interested in learning not just about your skills and experience but how you performed in past roles.

While you’ll likely share details in your application and interview regarding your previous achievements, that’s a one-sided view of your performance. As a result, hiring managers typically want to corroborate anything you share by speaking with others you engaged with when those accomplishments occurred, and strong references can meet that need.

Additionally, your references will help the hiring manager learn more about your mindset and attitude while on the job. They can attest to your communication and collaboration skills, for example, as they’ve worked with you directly. Along with learning more about how you come across, speaking with your references allows the hiring manager to see if their perspective aligns with what you’ve shared during your interview, effectively letting them see if there’s consistency.

Strong references won’t just provide the information the hiring manager needs; they’ll also present you in the best possible light. Additionally, ideal picks for references also ensure they come across as professional and thorough, which can elevate your positioning as a candidate, by extension.

How to Choose the Right References When Applying for Engineering Jobs

Professionals You’ve Worked with Recently

Generally, your references should include other professionals who you’ve worked with recently. Ideally, they need to be managers or colleagues from your current or most recent position, as they can best speak to your capabilities as they stand today. However, if discretion is necessary during your job search, references from the job before your current one can work well, especially if you’ve worked to maintain the connection.

It’s also wise to choose references that represent a variety of working relationships. For example, choosing one manager, one team member you worked with closely, and one cross-departmental colleague can be a solid choice. If you supervise others, making one reference a subordinate is often wise. Each of them would ultimately represent a different perspective, creating a more holistic picture when taken together.

Individuals Who Know Your Strengths

Ideally, your references will showcase you in the best possible light. If you want to increase the odds of that occurring, you need to select people that are highly aware of your strengths, particularly hard and soft skills relating to the job you want to land.

However, it’s also best to ensure each reference can discuss different strengths. That makes what they share less redundant and creates opportunities for the hiring manager to learn more about the breadth of your capabilities.

People Who Want to Advocate for You

Generally, you don’t want to list anyone as a reference if they don’t have the desire to serve as your advocate. That’s why it’s essential to request permission from professionals who you want to list.

If a potential reference seems hesitant to serve in this capacity, it’s usually better to consider another professional. Otherwise, they may provide a lukewarm response when questioned by the hiring manager, and that doesn’t play in your favor.

By speaking with them before providing a hiring manager with their contact information, you can confirm that they’re not just interested in sharing but enthusiastic about talking you up. Those that are excited about the idea are more likely to give the strongest possible reference, so keep that in mind when choosing professionals for this task.

Another benefit of selecting enthusiastic professionals is that they’re more open to preparing in advance. You can speak with them about the nature of the new role and the hiring manager’s priorities, as well as provide them with a copy of your resume. Then, it’s possible to work together to identify potential talking points they can cover, ensuring they can help you accomplish your goal of landing the engineering job.

How to Provide References During Your Job Search

While some candidates believe they should list their references on their resume, that isn’t the best move. Contacting references typically happens later in the hiring process, so offering up that information from the beginning is unnecessary. Similarly, stating that your references are available upon request on your resume isn’t ideal. Hiring managers know you’ll give them those details when it’s needed, so stating that on your application wastes valuable space.

Instead, wait for the hiring manager to ask for your references. When they do, provide a separate sheet with the names, position titles, current companies, phone numbers, and email addresses of the people you’re including. You can also state the nature of your relationship, such as saying that a reference was a former manager when you worked for a particular company.

On your reference sheet, make sure to include your contact information on the document, not unlike how you list it on your resume. That allows the hiring manager to quickly see whose reference list is in their hands, which is helpful if it accidentally gets separated from the rest of your application.

Are You Looking for a New Engineering Job? Burnett Specialists Can Help!

By partnering with Burnett Specialists, you can streamline your search significantly while gaining access to engineering job opportunities with leading employers. Plus, the team at Burnett Specialists will provide ample support and guidance along the way, making it easier to impress hiring managers and find a right-fit job quickly.

If you’re ready for a new engineering position and want to partner with an experienced recruiter, Burnett Specialists can help. Learn more about our open engineering positions and see how our dedicated team can get your career moving today.

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