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How to choose a professional reference

Choosing the right person to act as a reference can make all of the difference in your job hunt. After all, business is about relationships, and it's important for potential employers to see that you have been able to cultivate productive ones. Here are a few characteristics of the ideal person to support your search for employment:

  • They root for your success: Choose somebody who actively wants you to do well, and the benefits will be noticeable. The enthusiasm they have when talking about you will let the interviewer know that you're a candidate worth getting excited about. It's important to note, however, that even if somebody is in your corner, serving as a reference is a favor. Be sure to check in beforehand to ensure that they are comfortable in this role. 
  • They know your strengths: The best reference is a person who can clearly articulate what you have done well, and is qualified to speak to your performance in your potential role. A long-time boss who has seen you grow and flourish in a similar position to the one for which you're applying is a good advocate. 
  • They can think on their feet: If called, your reference might be posed a tough question — just like you were in the interview. It's a good idea to have somebody who is used to thinking quickly on your side, a person who won't jeopardize your chances for success with an ill-thought out comment. 

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