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Looking for a job promotion? Relationships are critical

It makes good business sense—and is respectful professional etiquette—to stay in touch with your former bosses, says Allison & Taylor, the nation’s oldest professional reference checking firm.

As your career advances, your efforts to stay connected with past employers could pay dividends many times over when they provide you with favorable professional references. Conversely, failing to maintain solid relationships with your references could have long-reaching professional consequences.

“As an employer, if a prospective employee’s former boss neglected to return your call looking for a professional reference, what message would that convey?” asks Jeff Shane of Allison & Taylor. “Oftentimes, job seekers pay close attention to their resumes and interview skills, but fail to nurture their professional references…and a personal commentary can make or break a successful job search.”

To enhance the likelihood of positive references, the firm suggests you follow these five golden rules of job reference etiquette:

  1. Call your former bosses and ask them if they are willing to be good job references for you. Be sure to thank them for supporting you in your job search if they agree.
  1. Let them know each and every time you give out their name and email address.
  1. Keep your former positive references informed of your career experiences and your educational progress. Provide them with career updates. They will be more inclined to see you in a stronger light as you progress.
  1. Remember that spending time with a potential employer takes valuable time out of your former boss’s day, so try to give something back. For instance, after receiving a good job reference, write a personal thank-you letter or (at a minimum) send an email. Better still, send a thank-you note with a gift card or offer to take your former boss to lunch/dinner.
  1. If you get the new job, call or email your former boss and thank him or her again for the positive references. At the same time, you can provide your new professional contact information.

Additionally, it’s critical to be certain of the feedback from your professional references.

If you are not 100 percent convinced that your professional references and past employers will share positive comments about you to prospective employers, have them checked out. A professional reference check can either put your mind at ease, or supply you with the critical information and evidence that may be blocking your job search efforts.

Allison & Taylor estimates that 50 percent of their references come back as “lukewarm” or “negative.” If a reference provides unfavorable or inaccurate information to a prospective employer, there are things that can be done to rectify the situation. You can take steps to prevent the continued spread of negative information, either through a cease and desist letter or through more aggressive legal recourse.

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