For new and veteran job hunters alike, the task of providing character references can be a challenging one. After all, what is needed in this regard are people who can give positive and objective insights about your work ethic.
For obvious reasons, fresh graduates usually look to former professors as character references. Below are some tips that must be kept in mind:
1) Maintain ties with former professors – One common mistake committed by students is to ignore their professors once the semester is over. Being friendly with them even if you are no longer their student, like taking the time to greet and perhaps have a small talk with them when you bump into each other at the hallway, can go a long way in making sure that the professor never forgets about you.
2) Choose the professors who you would approach for this – Needless to say, you cannot be recommended for a job by a professor if you did not perform well in his or her class. How can an ex prof be a credible character reference if he or she cannot even remember your name?
3) Approach the professor formally – Some students may be tempted to contact their ex professors through their social media accounts, but this is not advisable. Instead, you should communicate with them through e-mail to make your interaction more professional.
If in case you don’t know your prof’s email, then you can ask it through Facebook or whatever social media platform he/she is in and then, carry on your business there.
4) Re-introduce yourself – Never assume that your professor remembers everything about you. Make sure to mention in your email the subject where you became his/her student, the academic term, and even the grade that you got. If there are other things you wanna add to further freshen your ex prof’s memory of you, do it (e.g. the topic of your term paper, or a group activity where you were the leader, etc.).
5) Talk about the career path you would like to pursue – Briefly share to your ex professor the industry you would like to enter as well as the career path you are pursuing. This will help him/her in deciding what to highlight in case a prospective employer asks for his/her feedback and in writing a recommendation letter for you should the need arise.
6) Never forget to attach in your email a copy of your latest resumé or curriculum vitae – This will serve as your ex prof’s reference.
7) Give the professor a heads-up whenever you use his/her name during an application – As a matter of courtesy, take the time to tell your professor if and when you already began passing around resumes with his/her name included in the character reference. This assures that he/she will not be surprised once a representative from your target company contacts him/her in the middle of a busy day.
8) Send a thank-you note or a gift when you get your first salary – Whether or now your ex prof was contacted by the employer that eventually hired you, this is a simple gesture of appreciation that you must not overlook.