Personal and Professional References_OPM Retirement Benefits

What Differentiates Your Personal and Professional References

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When you’re job-hunting, you must update your resume. You need it polished and look the best it can. You can buy some new clothing that makes you look your best for interviews. What differentiates your personal and professional references? Keep reading this article in order to learn more.

You can cut your hair and trim your nails. You can practice answering interview questions in front of a mirror at home. You can rehearse the interview process with a spouse or partner if you have one. That way, you’ll feel comfortable when the time comes to do the real thing.

You must also consider the personal and professional references you’ll give prospective employers. You should understand the importance of personal and professional references for job seekers. You must also understand how they differ.

Early in your career or for social roles, personal references—also known as character references—are more prevalent. You should think about your own experience, specifically the stage of your career you’re in, to choose who might provide a suitable reference for you. Many candidates wonder, “Who should I contact for references?” Those that have been somewhat close to you as you’ve grown up make good referees.

We’ll talk about that right now.

Why Do Your References Matter?

First, let’s talk about why your references matter during the job-hunting process. When you pick personal and professional references, they tell your potential employer a story about you. They tell them about your background and what you’re like as an employee.

If you pick the wrong reference, either a professional or personal one, and they say the wrong thing when describing you, your characteristics, or your work ethic, that spells disaster. Many hiring managers and business owners will throw away your resume if one of your references tells them some off-color anecdote about something you did.

A colleague, boss, or client who can speak well of you to a potential employer is a professional reference. Those who have worked with you and can talk candidly about your job performance, habits, ethics, and professional demeanor are considered professional references. Those who can attest to your qualities and skills as a professional are known as references.

That’s why you must select your references carefully. Consider who you know that can speak about you articulately and frame your personality and job skills in the best light.

What is a Personal Reference?

Now, let’s talk about how personal and professional references differ. A personal reference knows you, but not from a work context. They know you in some other context from your personal life.

Maybe you have a spouse or partner, and you feel they know the most about you. They can describe your best qualities.

However, spouses or partners don’t make appropriate personal references. A hiring manager or business owner knows they’ll embellish your qualities because they hope you’ll get the job.

Instead, you must select someone like a former professor whose class you attended in college. You might also use a pastor who knows you from your church.

A person who knows a job applicant personally provides a personal letter of recommendation. A direct coworker from your professional experience serves as a professional reference. You might go with someone who works with you in a volunteer capacity. Anyone who knows you personally but who’s not a blood relation works best.

What About Professional References?

As for professional references, these people know you from your work life. Maybe you’ll give a former boss as a professional reference. They certainly know you from work, but proceed cautiously with this pick.

You should only give a former boss’s name if you left your last job under favorable circumstances. Maybe your old boss fired you for cause, or you argued about your salary, and that’s why you left.

If so, they’re not a suitable reference. They might harbor some bitter feelings toward you, and they may say something inappropriate, so you don’t get the new position you want.

If you left your old job under favorable circumstances, you can use your old boss’s name. You might also use some former coworkers who know you well.

If your old coworkers know you always show up on time and maintain a positive attitude while at work, you can use them. If they can speak enthusiastically about the job you do, they’re ideal for this spot.

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What Questions Will Your Potential Boss Ask?

Your potential boss will ask your personal and professional references questions, but not the same ones. They will ask your personal references about your character and demeanor. They will ask your professional references about your work ethic.

Either way, your possible new boss tries imagining a vivid picture through their questions. They must determine whether you’ll work based on what your references say.

You can impress a hiring manager or business owner when you meet them, and maybe you’ll nail the interview. Your references continue creating an impression, though, so you must make sure you’ve picked the right ones.

When you select your personal and professional references, contact the individuals you picked and tell them they should expect a phone call. You might prep them a little. They should not say anything dishonest about you, but you might still coach them before the moment comes. You might mention they should avoid certain topics and not bring them up voluntarily.

Ideally, your references will make you stand out for the right reasons, and you’ll get the job.

Final thought

Personal and professional references differ significantly in that the latter is used to explain your job experience and career. Former employers or close friends who provide a customized account to the prospective employer write personal and professional recommendations. Due to the employment connection, this is usually a commercial or professional reference. People you’ve never worked professionally with are considered personalized recommendations.

Never provide professional references without first verifying your inclusion with each individual. Provide three references if you choose to do so. As was said previously, the primary distinction between professional and personal references is that the latter is meant to relate to concrete issues. Ultimately, the goal of a job reference is to confirm that the professional image you exhibited in your CV and interview is a true reflection of who you are.

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