Include a recent boss. A turbulent relationship with a recent boss caused you to quit or be fired. With the ability to rattle off one unflattering story after the next, you intend to keep his or her name as far away from your list as possible. But employers may become suspicious if you nix the name of someone you labored under for multiple years, particularly if the skills from that job are highly relevant to the one you're applying for. Companies can be understanding of such dilemmas, but you have to be "honest and upfront" about your work relationships, Pirri says. "You can't get along with everyone you work with, and sometimes moving on is the right thing." Explain that the individual won't have positive things to say, and state that you wish to offer someone else who will.
Be courteous to your references. Individuals willing to champion your cause during the interview process deserve both your consideration and gratitude. Here are some ways to show due deference:
1. Don't let them get blindsided. Unaware of their presence on your list or an ensuing phone call, your references could be caught flat-footed and fail to present you in the best possible light. "It is better to be prepared to notify your references that there is an opportunity that may come up, and review with them their role so that they're aware of what the company would likely be asking," Pirri says.
2. Rotate your references. If you're applying to scores of jobs, your references could get bombarded with calls. Initially enthusiastic about touting you as an employee, they could become burnt out if they're spending multiple breaks and lunch hours responding to inquiring employers. "It's nice enough that someone would say yes to being a reference, [but] you don't want to abuse that," Brown-Volkman says. To limit the volume of phone calls, change your list (if you can) for each job you apply to or specify which individuals you want to be contacted.
3. Show appreciation, and keep them in the loop. Your references are doing you a tremendous favor and may prove vital in getting you hired. To demonstrate your appreciation, "don't forget to say thank you to your reference and let them know what happened," Brown-Volkman says.