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Managing Your References

What used to be an afterthought—employment references—has been elevated in the 21st century legal job market to a position of some prominence. And that means that references merit significantly more attention than most job candidates accord them. This series takes you, step-by-step, through the process of managing your references.

Why Manage References?

References have never been a more important element of legal job-hunting than they are today. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to treat this job-search component as an afterthought. Instead, you need to give it the quality time and attention that it merits.

Often, when a job interviewer asks a candidate for a reference list, the response is a pregnant pause followed by either something to the effect that: “I don’t have it with me, but I’ll get it to you right away,” or worse, “I don’ t have a list, per se. Let me think for a minute.” Perhaps I was an inordinately harsh employer, but whenever I received responses like these, that was the end of my interest in the job applicant.

Not only do you need to be prepared to deliver a reference list at every stage of the job-search process; you must also actively manage your references. That means more than identifying them and imparting this information to prospective employers when requested.

When to Identify References
Number of References
Selecting Your References
Why Not a Letter of Recommendation?
Keep Your References Informed and Up-to-Date
Reference Lists
Final Thoughts