Career Management

Once you graduate from college, you get into a job market that’s more confusing than you ever thought possible. First of all, you have to create perfect resumes and cover letters, hunt for suitable job positions, and wait patiently for the call that will determine your career path.

Here is the most confusing thing: every recruiter asks for references. Without any real work experience, how can you provide relevant references? Aren’t the good grades enough? Unfortunately, they aren’t. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see how you can get real references after graduation.

Benefit from your internships:

As most other graduates, you’ve probably gone through some internship positions that didn’t seem relevant to your future career. Guess what: they were! Although internships don’t pay much (or pay nothing at all), they are very important when it comes to getting the first real job. When the organizations that had you as an intern open new job positions, you want to be one of the applicants. List some of your superiors as references, and you’ll most likely get into the shortlist.

You don’t have to wait for these organizations to start accepting new candidates; you can submit your resume after graduation. In addition, you can benefit from your good relationship with the superiors in another way: ask for letters of recommendations and include them in the reference list for the positions you apply to.

Include your favorite professors:

Since you’re just starting to make the first steps on the job market, it is safe to include some of your professors on the reference list. Although most recruiters look for at least one supervisor reference in the applications, they will appreciate an addition of a reputable professor.

Don’t wait too long before you ask for permission to include some of your professors in the list. They contact many students on a daily basis, so you should act while the relationship is still active and their impressions are fresh.

Consider connecting with alumni mentors:

When you graduate, you will have a chance to become part of an alumni network that can contribute towards your professional success. If your school has a program that matches students with alumni with experience relevant to their interests, you already have few contacts that can be used as references. If not, try to become part of the community and connect with members who can be useful for your job application.

One word…LinkedIn:

When you aren’t anywhere near to a well-established business network, LinkedIn is the place to start. This service is getting more social than ever, so you can ask some of your contacts if you can include them in your reference list. Make sure to connect with your former professors and employers (if you’ve had on-campus jobs and internships). Become part of groups relevant to your career goals; join the discussions and hope that the right people will notice you.

Arrange meetings:

Ask every professional you know to meet with you. Of course, you mustn’t be too intense, but you can ask for a relaxed meeting and explain the vision you have about yourself. Many successful people are thrilled to help recent graduates find chances for success.

Do not beg for them to hire you in their companies! Be casual and ask if you could include them in the reference list. You can also ask for some recommendations of other people you can meet with. Reaching out is the key to success. If you stay in your safe spot of anonymity, your journey towards the first job will be longer and more difficult.

Extra Tips: What to Do With the References…

You gathered some contacts you can include in the reference list? That doesn’t mean your networking should stop. You need to preserve the relationship with these people and make them aware of the possibility to get a phone call. The last thing you would like to occur is a potential employer calling someone who has completely forgotten about you. Pay attention to these tips once you have a list of potential reference contacts:

Choose them wisely!

Not everyone will be willing and able to provide a recommendation for you. Your job application should include references of people that feel comfortable to put in a good word for you.

Prepare them for the call:

If you expect a hiring manager to consider you among the most successful candidates, then you should prepare your references to anticipate a call. Tell them who the call will come from, and what position you’re competing for.

Be thankful:

Don’t forget about your contacts after the entire procedure. Make sure to follow up after they talked on your behalf. Show you’re grateful for their collaboration, no matter whether you got the job or not.

References need proper care. If you want people to recommend you as a true professional, you need them to create and maintain a flawless impression of you.

Author: Maria is a freelance writer and a contributor to educational portal, ScholarAdvisor. Maria is an expert in writing, editing, social media and education technologies.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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