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Who should I use as my reference?  I have been doing contract assignments for the last four years.  I am not in touch with old supervisors.  Who should I use?

Randy Block

References typically come into play towards the end of the screening process.  Do not volunteer references until requested. Then, ask how many and "what kind"?  Give them what they ask for. And of course they usually will ask for prior supervisors, peers and subordinates.

To prepare for this, make a list of references that are current with you.  In your case, there is someone who was a primary "stakeholder" in the success of your project as a consultant.  It's always a good idea for you to call your reference in advance of the hiring company and give them a "heads up" to expect the call.

Randy Block is a certified career coach helping professionals maximize their career moves and job search.


Steven RansonIn regards to references and contract assignments there are two approaches that I would suggest.  First, your agency is your employer of record.  Always confirm with your recruiter their process for verification of employment.  At the very least this confirms your employment with this firm.  Additionally, confirm that the agency does exit interviews with their client.  If so, there should at least be verification of work done and the quality of your performance. 

As for the end client where you performed the actual work, it is typical that you have taken direction from and developed some level of rapport with your manager.  Prior to the completion of your assignment ask your direct manager if they would be willing to provide a verification of your work.  Many will and this can serve as a solid reference for you moving forward.  If you haven't stayed in touch, utilize LinkedIn to reconnect with past managers and ask the for their support moving forward.

Steven Ranson is the Vice President of Peak Technical Consulting for the Western Region.


Sandy SandersonReferences need to be pre-qualified and prepared to provide information that lines up with how you are presenting yourself for the job.

A range of references is best: - Someone you worked for, - Someone that worked with, - Someone that worked for you, - A personal reference,  and - An industry leader who are all telling a consistent story about you.

It is best to have written reference ready to go that should also be on your linkedin page.  Being prepared and have your homework done to select and qualify your references is key.

Sandy Sanderson is the founder of  Meridian Executive Resources, a twenty + year company providing C-level Executive Career Coaching/Branding, Placement Support, and BoD Advisor support.


Rebecca Kieler

References should not be taken lightly. In today's world where networking is so important it is even more important to stay in touch with your references and always keep in mind who would be a good reference as you go from position to position.

Most companies and managers consider references from a couple of people you have reported to be most important. They may also want co-workers or employees who have reported to you. If you have interfaced with vendors etc. they are also great references.

If you have lost touch with managers or other this is a great time to reach back. Don't hesitate.  Waiting longer doesn't make this easier.  Most people are really happy to be reconnected but start with the connection and ask about a reference later.  See if you can find them on LinkedIn and just send a nice 'Hello' note.  (Hi, was glad to see you here and would love to reconnect. Hope all is well … something like that)  When you connect, let them know you are sorry you lost touch and would like to stay in touch. Ask what they are up to?  Is there any way you can help them? (#1 rule of networking: it is a 2 way street)

If you contract, make sure you also find managers there that will agree to give you a reference. This is a good thing to do whenever you are leaving a position and then stay in touch!

The key here is stay in touch with people you want to be your reference. Then always let a reference know what has happened in regard to the position they helped you with and thank them. And once more, stay in touch so you never have to go through this again!

Rebecca Kieler is a Job Search Strategist and Career Transition Consultant for Kieler Career Consulting.


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